01. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady
Kansas City represent. Janelle Monae’s meticulous 2nd album – a double-album, actually – is so damn good. 19 tracks, and there’s no filler! Every song slays. Thematically and lyrically, this is another edition in Janelle’s expansive concept album series about an android named Cindi Mayweather. Musically, Janelle is duplicating every significant period of R&B music from the early 60s through the 90s. But always with a modern twist to the instrumentation and arrangements. This doesn’t feel like an old album, even when “It’s Code” wears its Jackson 5 influence on its sleeve and “Ghetto Woman” feels like an 80s shopping mall, and “Givin Em What They Love” is so much a Prince song that Prince himself does a guest verse. Monae is basically a neo-futurist in philosophy, and she applies that to her music and production. It’s hard to explain. I mean, she complains here about being “tired of Marvin asking me what’s goin on” but in order to achieve freshness in R&B she uses like all of the past and makes a R&B cyborg. This album is goddamned R&B Voltron. Janelle Monae has made a 19 track musical Megazord, and everything is so good. “Primetime,” featuring Miguel, is an incredible duet. “Victory” is a gospel track that every atheist slash robot can get behind. “Sally Ride” and “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes” are the culmination of the album’s synthesis. This album is in many top 20 lists and it is still underrated. Impeccable songcraft and musicianship. By the time you reach the album’s closer, the 90s radio R&B-evoking “What an Experience,” you’ll be thinking and feeling that song’s title. If you’ve read my lists ever before, you know that I’m rating these as album-length listens. Two years ago I dropped Doomtree’s last album from what would have been #1 to #3 because of one song that should have been sequenced earlier in the album. I get nitpicky. The Electric Lady is 19 tracks and I can’t find enough nits to pick to drop it from this spot. “Give me back my pyramid, I’m trying to free Kansas City.” This album is a treasure.
Originally Posted by Delano
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