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Janelle Monáe|The Age of Pleasure

The Age of Pleasure

Janelle Monáe

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"Float" was the right lead single for the first Janelle Monáe album in five years. The horns of Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 play a fanfare for the uncommon Monáe, who self-exalts with prancing bars and buoyant hooks, recounting a personal transformation through the shedding of all insecurities and inhibitions, and enumerating their effortless attainment of sensual, psychological, and material gratification. The song is powered by Nigerian woodwinds and brass and Kingston-to-Atlanta rhythms that are roughly equal parts rocksteady and trap. One thing "Float" doesn't have in common with the rest of the album is its four-minute duration. The other songs average half that length, and though many whip by in a flash, they're parts of a flowing sequence that could be billed as a suite like Monáe's Metropolis saga. There's no science fiction in The Age of Pleasure. Dedicated to those "around the diaspora and those seeking to join us," its delights are earthly in a way that echoes Monáe's listed track-by-track inspirations, which most pertinently acknowledge those finding communality and liberation in bashment parties, ballroom culture, and ATL strip clubs. (Objects such as "the weathered copy of Doggystyle framed in my cousin Myron's clogged bathroom" are cited too.) In addition to the Afrobeat element often brought in by Egypt 80, and appearances from a mix of legends and up-and-comers, The Age of Pleasure is threaded with interpolations and samples of numerous reggae classics. It still sounds just like a Wondaland production -- soulful, left-of-center pop that is ornate and tasteful, brimming with ideas from subtly dazzling vocal arrangements to crafty song transitions. The material follows through on the title, celebrating an ideal for sybaritic living whether alone, with a partner, or with partners. "Water Slide" opens with one of the boldest statements a person could make about themself and appropriately contains sumptuous all-Monáe harmonies in the chorus. "Only Have Eyes 42" is polyamorous lovers' rock tricked out with strings and laser FX that convey a mix of romance and haywire hormones. In this context, the one-on-one songs -- the steady-bobbing "Lipstick Lover," the more heated "Paid in Pleasure," and the soft Brazilian touch of "A Dry Red" -- are charmingly quaint, even when explicit. There's joy in every moment. It's no coincidence that Monáe chose Pride Month and Black Music Month -- ten days before Juneteenth, to be precise -- to release a multicultural album of unrepressed spirit built for playing in the sunshine.

© Andy Kellman /TiVo

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The Age of Pleasure

Janelle Monáe

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1
Float (feat. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80) Explicit
00:04:02

Janelle Monáe, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Seun Kuti, Horn, Solo Horn, FeaturedArtist - Raul Rodriguez, Miscellaneous - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Producer, Arranger, Percussion, Programming - Egypt 80, FeaturedArtist - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Guitar, Bass - Yang Tan, Recorded by - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Egypt 81, Horn - Nate Wonderful, Producer, Flute, Guitar, Horns Arranger, Background Vocals, Recorded by, Bass, Sounds

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

2
Champagne Shit Explicit
00:02:23

Hornz Unlimited, Horn - Fabian Marasciullo, Immersive Mixer - Janelle Monáe, Producer, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist - Barrington Levy, Writer - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Roman GianArthur, Guitar - Seun Kuti, Horn - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Cal Bennett, Additional Horn - Sean Billings, Additional Horn - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Drums, Percussion, Additional Production, Additional Arranger, Programming - Erm Navarro, Additional Horn - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Egypt 80, Horn - Serafin Aguilar, Additional Horn - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Guitar, Additional Production, Bass, Additional Arranger - Yang Tan, Recorded by - Dennis Mitcheltree, Additional Horn - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate Wonderful, Producer, Arranger, Drums, Guitar, Organ, Percussion, Horns Arranger, Recorded by, Synthesizer, ExecutiveProducer

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

3
Black Sugar Beach
00:01:05

Hornz Unlimited, Horn - Janelle Monáe, Producer, Arranger, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist - Barrington Levy, Writer - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Roman GianArthur, Producer, Guitar - Seun Kuti, Horn - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Cal Bennett, Additional Horn - Sean Billings, Additional Horn - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Roman GianArthur Irvin, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Producer, Additional Arranger, Programming - Erm Navarro, Additional Horn - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Serafin Aguilar, Additional Horn - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Bass - Yang Tan, Recorded by - Dennis Mitcheltree, Additional Horn - Don Hulio, Engineer - Egypt 81, Horn - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Arranger, Drums, Guitar, Organ, Percussion, Horns Arranger, Recorded by, Sound Effects (SFX), ExecutiveProducer

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

4
Phenomenal (feat. Doechii) Explicit
00:03:37

Janelle Monáe, Additional Production, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Chuck Lightning, Additional Arranger, ExecutiveProducer - Roman GianArthur, Guitar, Additional Production, Additional Arranger - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Roman GianArthur Irvin, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Producer, Arranger, Drums, Programming - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Cory Henry, Horn - Dominique Sanders, Bass - Kyla Moscovich, Trumpet, Horns Arranger - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Horns Arranger, Synthesizer - Yang Tan, Engineer - Taron Lockett, Drums - Don Hulio, Engineer - Doechii, Additional Production, FeaturedArtist - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Drums, Guitar, Horn, Percussion, Horns Arranger, Recorded by, Synthesizer, Additional Arranger, ExecutiveProducer - Precious Basquiat, Sound Effects (SFX) - Jaylah Ji’miya Hickmon, Writer

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

5
Haute Explicit
00:01:36

Janelle Monáe, Producer, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist, VocalArranger - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Roman GianArthur, Guitar - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Producer, Drums, Percussion, Additional Arranger, Programming, Sound Effects (SFX) - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Drums, Guitar, Bass, Additional Arranger - Yang Tan, Recorded by - Don Hulio, Engineer - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Drums, Flute, Guitar, Organ, Percussion, Horns Arranger, Recorded by, Synthesizer, ExecutiveProducer, Strings Arranger - Meredith “Ezi” Ezinma, Strings

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

6
Oooh La La (feat. Grace Jones)
00:00:35

Janelle Monáe, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Grace Jones, Writer, FeaturedArtist - Chuck Lightning, Arranger, ExecutiveProducer - Roman GianArthur, Guitar - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Drums, Percussion, Additional Production, Additional Arranger, Programming, Sound Effects (SFX) - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Drums, Guitar, Bass, Additional Arranger - Yang Tan, Recorded by - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate Wonderful, Producer, Drums, Flute, Guitar, Organ, Percussion, Horns Arranger, Recorded by, Sound Effects (SFX), ExecutiveProducer, Strings Arranger - Meredith “Ezi” Ezinma, Strings

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

7
Lipstick Lover
00:02:49

Clifton Dillon, Writer - Handel Tucker, Writer - Fabian Marasciullo, Immersive Mixer - Janelle Monáe, Producer, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist, VocalArranger - Sly Dunbar, Writer - Stevie Wonder, Writer - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Leroy Romans, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Brian Thompson, Writer - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Ewart Everton Brown, Writer - Richard Foulks, Writer - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Herbert Harris, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Producer, Percussion, Programming, Sound Effects (SFX) - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Guitar, Bass - Yang Tan, Recorded by - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Background Vocals, Recorded by, Bass, Sound Effects (SFX), ExecutiveProducer - Meme Dock, Additional Arranger

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

8
The Rush (feat. Nia Long & Amaarae) Explicit
00:02:43

Janelle Monáe, Producer, Arranger, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Producer, Drums, Percussion, Programming, Sound Effects (SFX) - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - amaarae, Additional Arranger, FeaturedArtist - Ama Serwah Genfi, Writer - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Guitar, Bass - Yang Tan, Recorded by - Don Hulio, Engineer - Nia Long, FeaturedArtist - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Drums, Guitar, Percussion, Vibraphone, Background Vocals, Recorded by, Sound Effects (SFX), ExecutiveProducer - Meme Dock, Additional Arranger

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

9
The French 75 (feat. Sister Nancy) Explicit
00:01:09

Hornz Unlimited, Horn - Janelle Monáe, Producer, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist - Sister Nancy, FeaturedArtist - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Roman GianArthur, Additional Production - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Roman GianArthur Irvin, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Additional Production, Additional Arranger - Ophlin Russell, Writer - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Synthesizer - Yang Tan, Engineer - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Drums, Percussion, Horns Arranger, Recorded by, Bass, ExecutiveProducer - Stephanie Silva, Writer

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

10
Water Slide Explicit
00:02:44

Winston Riley, Writer - Janelle Monáe, Producer, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Leroy Romans, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Producer, Drums, Additional Arranger, Programming, Sound Effects (SFX) - Ophlin Russell, Writer - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Dorothy Patra Smith, Writer - Anthony St. Aubyn Kelly, Writer - Taylor Monet Parks, Writer - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Solo Guitar, Additional Production, Additional Arranger - Yang Tan, Engineer - Emelie Walcott, Writer - Don Hulio, Engineer - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Guitar, Organ, Saxophone, Horns Arranger, Recorded by, Synthesizer, ExecutiveProducer

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

11
Know Better (feat. CKay, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80)
00:02:49

Janelle Monáe, Producer, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist, VocalArranger - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Roman GianArthur, Additional Arranger - CKay, FeaturedArtist - Seun Kuti, Horn, FeaturedArtist - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Michael McEwan, Writer - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Egypt 80, Horn, FeaturedArtist - Chukwuka Ekweani, Writer - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Yang Tan, Engineer - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Drums, Guitar, Organ, Percussion, Horns Arranger, Recorded by, ExecutiveProducer

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

12
Paid In Pleasure
00:01:46

Janelle Monáe, Producer, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist, VocalArranger - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Roman GianArthur, Additional Arranger - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Producer, Arranger, Drums, Percussion, Programming - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Kel-P, Additional Production, Programming - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Bass - Yang Tan, Recorded by - Emelie Walcott, Writer - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Organ, Horns Arranger, Recorded by, Synthesizer, ExecutiveProducer

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

13
Only Have Eyes 42
00:02:50

Janelle Monáe, Producer, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist, VocalArranger - Derrick Harriott, Writer - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Nana Kwabena, Producer, Arranger, Drums, Percussion, Programming, Sound Effects (SFX) - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Recorded by, Bass - Yang Tan, Engineer - Emelie Walcott, Writer - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Additional Production, Recorded by, ExecutiveProducer, Strings Arranger - Meme Dock, Additional Arranger - Meredith “Ezi” Ezinma, Strings - Kayla Dock, Additional Arranger

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

14
A Dry Red
00:01:51

Janelle Monáe, Lead Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist, Co- Producer - Dave Kutch, Masterer - MICK GUZAUSKI, Mixer - Janelle Monáe Robinson, Writer - Nathaniel Irvin III, Writer - Chuck Lightning, ExecutiveProducer - Eric King, AAndRAdministrator - Nana Kwabena Tuffuor, Writer - Riggs Morales, A&R Direction - Sean “Diddy” Combs, ExecutiveProducer - Jarrett Goodly, Writer - Sensei Bueno, Producer, Guitar, Sound Effects (SFX) - Yang Tan, Engineer - Don Hulio, Engineer - Jayda Love, Recorded by - Nate “Rocket” Wonder, Producer, Drums, Flute, Percussion, Recorded by, Strings, Woodwind, Woodwind Arranger, ExecutiveProducer

© 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC ℗ 2023 Bad Boy Records LLC

Album review

"Float" was the right lead single for the first Janelle Monáe album in five years. The horns of Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 play a fanfare for the uncommon Monáe, who self-exalts with prancing bars and buoyant hooks, recounting a personal transformation through the shedding of all insecurities and inhibitions, and enumerating their effortless attainment of sensual, psychological, and material gratification. The song is powered by Nigerian woodwinds and brass and Kingston-to-Atlanta rhythms that are roughly equal parts rocksteady and trap. One thing "Float" doesn't have in common with the rest of the album is its four-minute duration. The other songs average half that length, and though many whip by in a flash, they're parts of a flowing sequence that could be billed as a suite like Monáe's Metropolis saga. There's no science fiction in The Age of Pleasure. Dedicated to those "around the diaspora and those seeking to join us," its delights are earthly in a way that echoes Monáe's listed track-by-track inspirations, which most pertinently acknowledge those finding communality and liberation in bashment parties, ballroom culture, and ATL strip clubs. (Objects such as "the weathered copy of Doggystyle framed in my cousin Myron's clogged bathroom" are cited too.) In addition to the Afrobeat element often brought in by Egypt 80, and appearances from a mix of legends and up-and-comers, The Age of Pleasure is threaded with interpolations and samples of numerous reggae classics. It still sounds just like a Wondaland production -- soulful, left-of-center pop that is ornate and tasteful, brimming with ideas from subtly dazzling vocal arrangements to crafty song transitions. The material follows through on the title, celebrating an ideal for sybaritic living whether alone, with a partner, or with partners. "Water Slide" opens with one of the boldest statements a person could make about themself and appropriately contains sumptuous all-Monáe harmonies in the chorus. "Only Have Eyes 42" is polyamorous lovers' rock tricked out with strings and laser FX that convey a mix of romance and haywire hormones. In this context, the one-on-one songs -- the steady-bobbing "Lipstick Lover," the more heated "Paid in Pleasure," and the soft Brazilian touch of "A Dry Red" -- are charmingly quaint, even when explicit. There's joy in every moment. It's no coincidence that Monáe chose Pride Month and Black Music Month -- ten days before Juneteenth, to be precise -- to release a multicultural album of unrepressed spirit built for playing in the sunshine.

© Andy Kellman /TiVo

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