Janelle Monáe is ready to paint the music scene a funky rhythm and blues with her upcoming album, The Electric Lady.
The project, which was recorded in her own Wondaland studios in Atlanta, was something the Kansas City, Mo. native saw before she heard. Spending the last few years on the road, Monáe said she continuously painted an image of a woman on her canvas. As she couldn’t understand why she kept painting this female’s silhouette, the pompadoured singer consulted her therapist, who said to give this mysterious person a name. Electric Lady was the moniker that stuck.
“I started to think about a world where the 21st century of women, a new breed of women were inspired to be the electric lady," says Monáe, phoning in from Los Angeles two days before closing out the 2013 BET Awards. "I started to think about what would the electric lady think about?”
Those musings provided the inspiration for a few themes or topics that listeners will hear on the album such as love, heartbreak, religion, politics, issues in the community as well as how the electric lady “stands up for [and] treats other women.”
Her follow-up to 2010's The ArchAndroid is off to an hyped start as the Erykah Badu-assisted lead single “Q.U.E.E.N.” had listeners two-stepping with the bass guitar’s lead, but her second melody “Dance Apocalyptic” will keep the feet shuffling. “It’s not coming from an authoritative standpoint but one of an observation and just wanting the people who are listening to think about how they are living life," she says, citing rock legend Bo Diddley as the song's inspiration. "Are they walking dead, or are they really living?”
The Cover Girl spokesmodel reveled in the opportunity to work with Miguel, Esperanza Spalding and Prince on The Electric Lady. But she's the star of the show, both on the tracks and on the boards. “I got a chance to do a lot more production for myself as well as other artists,” she says. “I feel like I’m needed in terms of giving more history on R&B, where it originates from, and just being innovated in that genre as well.”
Monáe will give fans their thrilling soundtrack for the fall season, w including four bonus tracks that will solely be available through Target: “HYTB,” “The Electric Lady (Remix),” “Q.U.E.E.N. (Remix)” and her rendition of "I Want You Back' by The Jackson Five. “I was very inspired by them growing up—and even now," says Monáe. "I’m happy to give them that rendition in my own way.”
The deluxe edition of The Electric Lady will be available at Target and Target.com Sept. 10. —Camille Augustin