Beats By Barreira | Spotlight: Janelle Monáe

Concept albums are difficult enough to pull off in their own right, but when an artist pledges to five of them before their debut, she’s either bluffing or has one helluva ace up her sleeve. Janelle Monáe, however, is not bluffing. The up-and-coming R&B singer behind “The ArchAndroid” and “The Electric Lady” has made a name for herself effortless ambling through a wide variety of musical styles.
Through Suites I-IV of her “Metropolis” project, beginning with her EP “The Chase Suite” she tells the story of Cindi Mayweather, an android alter-ego whose sci-fi aesthetic is complemented in her live shows and and album art.
“I love speaking about the android because they are the new ‘other’,” Monáe told MTV. “And I feel like all of us, whether in the majority or the minority, felt like the Other at some point.”
Nearly every song of Monáe’s demonstrates a different side of her musical abilities. Her second album, “ArchAndroid” begins like her other Suites, with an orchestral flurry that seamlessly blends into tight and groove-heavy R&B. “Faster” and “Locked Inside” are danceable and infectious, while the soft and sweet “Sir Greendown” showcases the tender side of her voice.
Regardless of how many hats Monáe tries on, she looks stunning in every one. On “Oh, Maker,” she pulls off an off-kilter, Mac Demarco-esque groove, while “Mushrooms & Roses” turns into a successful experiment with psychedelia. Both albums are characterized by joyous trumpets, instrumental divergences and a whole crew of musical veterans sounding like they’re having the time of their lives.
“The Electric Lady”, her latest album, is similarly genre-hopping and features irresistible dance tracks “Dance Apocalyptic” and “Q.U.E.E.N,” with guest appearances by Miguel, Solange Knowles and Prince (among others). She drew buzz with her electrifying performance of “Dance Apocalyptic” on SNL that showed off her energy and killer dance moves. Her sense of style has also generated attention, as Monáe sported black and white suspenders and her characteristic pompadour hairdo.
Some of that style has come at the hands of Sean Combs, the rap mogul who knew he saw potential in Monáe when he first heard about her through mutual friend Big Boi and looked to reinvent her image for stardom. Since he signed her to his label, Monáe has won a number of high-profile fans within the music industry, including pop legend Prince. Their support and Monáe’s material so far confirm what’s already apparent, that the multi-genre versatile “Android” is a true rising star.