Performer and KCK native, Janelle Monae, is known for her gender-bending clothing and futuristic soul-meets-funk music. Keeping in her style, Monae just released her latest music video, "Q.U.E.E.N.", featuring neo-soul singer, Erykah Badu.
In this futuristic music video, “Q.U.E.E.N.” is introduced as a project in a “musical-weapons program.” Badu, Monae and the rest of Monae’s band play the part of time-traveling rebels that have been caught and put on display in a “living museum.”
Soon, the rebels come to life in sort of robotic, jerky, movements and stark black-and-white colors. Not surprisingly, Monae has been called “cagey,” “otherworldly,” “uncategorizable,” and even “a female James Brown” for her funky dance moves.
Monae grew up in the Quindaro neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, and attended F.L. Schlagle High School. Later, she hit the music scene in New York, then Atlanta, working with rap artist Big Boi and producers Nate “Rocket” Wonder and Chuck Lightning of Wondaland Productions.
Science fiction is a major overtone in Monae's work. In fact, all of her albums follow the metanarrative of the android, Cindy Mayweather, Monae’s muse.
Through this funky and fierce persona, Monae tries to present messages of unity, freedom and self-empowerment. And her look is just as signature. In every performance, Monae sports a tight black-and-white tuxedo, with bright red lipstick, and geometric jewelry, or as she calls it, her "uniform."
"My job as an artist is to empower other people," Monae told KCUR's Susan Wilson in 2010. "All of it is to encourage people to dream greater and imagine higher and when I put on those clothes, it gives me the fuel that I need to continue.”
“Q.U.E.E.N.” will appear on Monae’s upcoming album, The Electric Lady. The album title is a reference to Jimi Hendrix’s album, Electric Ladyland. The song title, “Q.U.E.E.N.” is actually an unexplained acronym, but Monae says it’s based on private conversations she’s had with co-collaborator, Erykah Badu.
The album is set for release fall 2013.