Kansas Citiy’s own Janelle Monae, like Dorothy From the Wizard of OZ, knows what it’s like to be stuck in the ordinary, and dream BIG about being somewhere–perhaps– over the rainbow, or perhaps in a post-cyborg, afro-futirist dystopia where Androids like Cindi Mayweather–Janelles alter-ego– dutifully oblige to uplift the oppressed public with her transcendent performance skills.
You’re not in Kansas anymore Janelle/Cindi; whichever you prefer, because the high-spirited triple threat identifies herself and Cindi as one and the same. Kansas city or not perhaps there are some real world truths to be found in the fantastical world painted on the sci-fi concept album Electric Lady (September).
Strong influences from Prince (featured on the album) and Parliament Funkadelik are found throughout but really the sound is her own; combining a delicious funk-soul cocktail with that real Atlanta sound reminiscent of Outkast hooks. Here’s to hoping for a big-boi and Janelle album in the near future.
The concepts outlined in The Electric Lady become even more clear and present on stage, draped in white cloth and black spirals, Janelle is wheeled out on a stretcher before running through her opening three songs.
By halfway through “Dance Apocalyptica” I was trying to catch my breath just watching her. Janelle makes the large stage seem small, traversing end to end as if it were made of special ice made just for her feet. But she didn’t stop there, or anywhere for that matter, the twenty-nine year old dancer, tapped and popped through her remarkable hour and half set, breaking into a three song encore, followed by an audacious stage dive that blasted her through the sold-out Kool Haus crowd before returning her to the stage, only to leave, and then return for a final encore, complete with Confetti cannons.
Her half-set cover of Jackson 5’s “I want you back” solidifies why Janelle is the next best pop performer, equaled, perhaps only, by the late great MJ himself. If you don’t believe me, go and see her next time she comes. Even if you arrive with your head in the clouds, your eyes will be on the star.
“You can take my wings but I’m still gonna fly, and even when you edit me the booty don’t lie” –Janelle Monae (Q.U.E.E.N Feat Erykah Badu)