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R&B - Released May 17, 2010 | Bad Boy - Wondaland

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks
Any misgivings about Janelle Monáe's Bad Boy deal are nullified by the briefest contact with this, an extravagant 70-minute album involving more imagination, conceptual detail, and stylistic turnabouts than most gatefold prog rock epics. Credit Bad Boy's Diddy for allowing Monáe to fully explore the singularity on display through Metropolis, Suite I: The Chase, and work with her Wondaland crew on a bigger budget. The ArchAndroid not only picks up where The Chase let off, but contains both the second and third Metropolis suites in one shot with no discernible “let’s make some hits now” intervention. The packaging alone -- the elaborate crown, the inspiration listed beside each song, etc. -- provides much to process. Liner notes from the vice-chancellor of the arts asylum at the Palace of the Dogs, Monáe’s residence, outline the (possible) situation fleshed out in the songs. In short, Monáe was genoraped in the 28th century, sent back to the 21st century, and had her organic compounds cloned and re-purposed for the existence of ArchAndroid Cindi Mayweather, whose directive is to liberate Metropolis from a secret society of oppressors. Understanding all this stuff enhances the enjoyment of the album, but it is not required. A few tracks merely push the album along, and a gaudy Of Montreal collaboration is disruptive, but there are numerous highlights that are vastly dissimilar from one another. “Tightrope,” the biggest standout, is funky soul, all locomotive percussion and lyrical prancing to match: “I tip on alligators, and little rattlesnakers/But I’m another flavor, something like a Terminator.” Just beneath that is the burbling synth pop of “Wondaland,” as playful and rhythmically juicy as Tom Tom Club (“So inspired, you touch my wires”); the haunted space-folk of “57821” (titled after Monáe’s patient number); and the conjoined “Faster” and “Locked Inside,” packing bristling energy with a new-wave bounce that morphs into a churning type of desperation worthy of Michael Jackson. Monáe might not have much appeal beyond musical theater geeks, sci-fi nerds, and those who like their genres crossed-up, but no one can deny that very few are on her creative level. She can sing, sang, and scream like hell, too. ~ Andy Kellman

R&B - Released September 6, 2013 | Bad Boy - Wondaland

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Prince, Erykah Badu, Esperanza Spalding, Solange, and Miguel contribute to the fourth and fifth Metropolis suites, but it's not as if Janelle Monáe and her Wondaland associates were short on creative energy. Equally as detailed and as entertaining as The ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady likewise is a product of overactive imaginations and detailed concept engineering, and it also plays out like a sci-fi opera-slash-variety program with style and era-hopping galore. Suite four is the album's busier and more ostentatious half, more star-studded and less focused, highlighted by the bopping "Dance Apocalyptic" and the strutting Badu duet "Q.U.E.E.N." Suite five is considerably stronger with a handful of firmly R&B-rooted gems. The inspiration for its overture is noted in the liners as "Stevie Wonder listening to Os Mutantes on vinyl (circa 1973)," but shades of Stevie's '70s work are heard later in more obvious ways. "Ghetto Woman" is impeccably layered soul-funk, fluid and robust at once, with chunky percussion and synthesizer lines bounding about as Monáe delivers a performance as proud and as powerful as Stevie's "Black Man." It contains an autobiographical 30-second verse that is probably swift and dense enough to make early supporter Big Boi beam with pride. The enraptured liquid glide of "Dorothy Dandridge Eyes," featuring Spalding, recalls "I Can't Help It," co-written by Stevie for Michael Jackson's Off the Wall. Earlier, on "It's Code," Monáe channels the yearning Jackson 5-era MJ. "Can't Live Without Your Love," presumably a paean to human love interest Anthony Greendown has Monáe -- or Cindi Mayweather, aka Electric Lady Number One -- yearning like never before. The album is sure to astound Monáe's sci-fi/theater-geek following. Its second half cannot be denied by those who simply value creative R&B that owes to the past and sounds fresh. Anyone can appreciate the phenomenal interludes, which are close to 3 Feet High and Rising level. Power-up to the Droid Rebel Alliance and the Get-Free Crew indeed. ~ Andy Kellman

Soul - Released October 7, 2016 | Bad Boy - Wondaland

Trumpeting again and again that she is Prince’s musical heir, what was bound to happen did happen: Janelle Monáe got his majesty from Minneapolis to feature on the second track of her second album! But beyond this tremendous feat (to which we could also add the flamboyant collaborations with Erykah Badu, Esperanza Spalding and Solange Knowles), one must not lose sight of a most essential point: this album truly is the Mount Everest of soul, R&B and modern funk. Three years after The ArchAndroid, her impressive concept album that immediately put her on the map of contemporary groove, Janelle Monáe has crafted a flamboyant follow-up. Far from the straightforward and often way-too-sweet canons of contemporary R&B, the artist from Kansas carefully hones her melodies, her style and her prose. Less experimental and eclectic than its predecessor, this second opus can be enjoyed over time and reasserts her position as a major player in contemporary soul music. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

R&B - Released August 31, 2010 | Bad Boy - Wondaland


Dance - Released July 20, 2010 | Bad Boy - Wondaland


R&B - Released February 25, 2014 | Bad Boy - Wondaland


Dance - Released September 3, 2013 | Bad Boy - Wondaland


R&B - Released February 12, 2010 | Bad Boy - Wondaland


R&B - Released June 21, 2010 | Bad Boy - Wondaland


R&B - Released April 23, 2013 | Bad Boy - Wondaland


R&B - Released December 17, 2010 | Bad Boy - Wondaland


R&B - Released July 2, 2013 | Bad Boy - Wondaland

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