Women We Love Wednesdays: Janelle Monae
It's no secret that women can rock just as hard, if not harder, than men. But there seems to be a disparity when it comes to their representation in the music industry. They are topping the charts but barely getting any slots at big name festivals (this years Coachella lineup is 90 percent male). To do what we can to celebrate these women and give them the positive recognition they deserve, each week Music Times will introduce you to a female in the music industry whom we love.
Singer-songwriters, rappers, DJs, producers, filmmakers, and any woman who is part of the music industry is fair game for this segment. So read on, and get to know the women who continue to wow us. This week we'd like to show off ...
Name: Janelle Monae
Profession: PBR&B singer/songwriter, Android
From: Kansas City, Kansas
Why We Love Her: Janelle Monae is not afraid to stand out. The 28-year-old firecracker always puts 110 percent (at least) into everything she does. From her first studio album The Archandroid to this year's The Electric Lady, Monae has managed to blend together science fiction, pop and old school R&B to create some of the most original, riveting music out there today. With albums full of complex music and fascinating lyrics that recall 1950s sci-fi, Monae hasn't just broken the musical mold, she's absolutely shattered it.
Moreso, Monae is a badass. She refuses to be pinned down in any box, be it musically, sexually or personally. Though she's surrounded by people who question her sexuality, Monae has dismissed any rumors about herself, claiming she can only fall in love androids. In an interview with NME earlier this year, Monae said, "I will not allow myself to be oppressed or I will not allow myself to be a slave or controlled by anybody's own belief system." And, who can't find some inspiration in that?
Background: Janelle Monae was born on Dec. 1, 1985, in Kansas City, Kansas, but left her hometown right after high school graduation to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. According to All Music, Monae moved to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in the hopes of becoming a Broadway star. After performing in some shows off-Broadway, she realized musical theatre wasn't her bag, packed her things and moved to Atlanta to start a band.
It was in ATL that Monae caught the ear of Big Boi (yes, that one from Outkast) and was then included in on some of his mid-2000s compilations. Eventually, Monae got her own deal and released The Chase EP in 2007, which eventually led to her being signed to Diddy's Bad Boy roster. In May 2010, Monae released the critically-adored The Archandroid, which followed her first EP in the adventures of the android Cyndi Mayweather. That album included hits such as "Tightrope" and "Cold War." This year, Monae released her second full-length album The Electric Lady, which furthered the story of Cyndi Mayweather (largely revealing her background).
Fun Fact: Monae is actually the guest singer on .fun's massive 2012 hit "We Are Young" and went on tour with the alt-rockers in 2011 -- and .fun opened for her.
What Now: This week, Monae is being celebrated as Billboard's Rising Star at the publication's annual Women in Music event. Moreover, Monae is popping up on countless year-end lists for both The Electric Lady and two of the album's singles, "Q.U.E.E.N." and "Dance Apocalyptic." If there were ever a year for this unique star, 2013 would be it.
Watch: Check out the music video for the lead single from The Electric Lady and one of the best songs of 2013, "Q.U.E.E.N." (feat. Erykah Badu):