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Album Review: Janelle Monae – Metropolis: The Chase Suite

Don’t call her Ms. Andre 3000, or the female equivalent to Prince. Janelle Monae and her imaginative special edition EP Metropolis: The Chase Suite is the furthest thing from industry bells and whistles or any other dimension of today’s urban music. However, the reality surrounding the artistic soul of Janelle Monae is simply her world of cyborgs, fascist dictatorships and social awareness with a stunning voice. Although her subject matter is more commonly found in a H.G. Wells novel, the EP itself is a true testament to multi-generations of rock and soul music in the age of Hip-Hop.Sprung from Kansas City, Kansas Monae was first featured on Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon All-Star’s Compilation Got Purp? Volume II, with her ‘70s Michael Jackson-inspired dancetrack “Lettin’ Go.” Then, aligning a feature on OutKast’s 2006 Idlewild soundtrack, solidified Monae’s alliance and influence with the Atlanta rap duo. Although EP tracks like “Violet Stars Happy Hunting” and “Smile” are completely left field for Big Boi’s lady protégé, the old school mesh of soul makes perfect sense. Her work with The Wondaland Arts Society seeps through onto every track as inventive concepts and varieties of genres. Creating an aura of futuristic Afro-punk on “Many Moons,” Janelle Monae may be different but damn sure proves that lyrical sustenance can be incredibly nod-worthy. However, the EP’s shining point is on the socially conscious love letter “Sincerely, Jane.” With blaring operatic horns and a Hip-Hop backbeat, Monae croons with beautifully toned vocals, about the way we live. The track mixes classical, Hip-Hop and ‘60s soul like nothing else ever produced, mixing a soulful break evocative of Stevie Wonder’s “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Need You).” The only downfall in Metropolis, which befalls Monae’s beautifully crafted set of sounds, is her bizarre vision stifling the mass attraction. Luckily for her, she plans to release other Suites, which will hopefully center the style of this new school out the box songstress.

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