Janelle Monáe is beautifully bizarre. A tiny, Oreo-clad enigma in saddle shoes and tails. And then, of course, there’s the ever-present bouffant with a personality of its own. You may recognize the ArchAndroid by her uniform and chigon, but until you’ve witnessed her perfectly-poofed pompadour explode into an untamed corkscrew mane, you haven’t earned the right to call yourself a fan.
Since we met Janelle, six years ago she’s gone from intergalactic ATLien-ette with a Big Boi co-sign to a moon-walking P-funk phenom with a Bad Boy contract. She’s got this boundless, operatic wail that turns up the intensity on her homespun, juke-joint jam sessions. She dusts the stage with Baby Powder and puts a spit-shine on dusty classic funk/soul. Her upcoming major-label debut, The ArchAndroid feels like her “Hey Yeah!” moment. “Janelle is one of the most artistic signings of my career,” Diddy says of his newest recruit. “This young lady is the future of music.” Trust — it’s more than dutifully, hyperbolic support. Diddy knows the value of the jewel he mined.
And then there’s her entourage. A cultish crew of tuxedo-clad disciples, The Wondaland Art Society/Bad Boy is reminiscent of a 60s Warhol-esque collective (minus the drugs, of course. These kids are high on nothing more than creativity and paint fumes.) It’s easy to confuse their loyalty and love with worship. Don’t. Just recognize it as an intense gratitude for providing something inspiring and game-changing. And pay attention before you miss something.