On a large scale, Janelle Monae was introduced to the music scene with her single, “Tightrope.”
I didn’t hear much of her after that.
Then, in 2013, a friend of a friend posted the link to the “Q.U.E.E.N.” video on Facebook.
And she had my attention for a second time.
It was odd. But it infiltrated my ears, and I found myself playing it on repeat. She’d found her way into my music rotation.
This year, I heard of Monae standing up for herself on Twitter, and she solidified my respect for her as an artist and a woman.
So while I was out-of-it one day at work, I turned on her newest record, The Electric Lady.
It didn’t disappoint.
So far my favorites are “Electric Lady,” “Dance Apocalyptic,” and “Look Into My Eyes.” There’s a reason why Diddy, Big Boi and Prince have all taken Monae under their collective wing. The musical diversity of her album is staggering and as someone that often falls into a rut with music, it kept my attention.
This year, though, Monae released another single that became an earworm for me.
About halfway through the song, a man’s voice joined hers, and at first, I swore it was Akon. But it wasn’t. It was Jidenna.
The minute I switched tabs over to the video, I saw an insanely dapper man with a sideways grin that could make a nun swoon.
So I looked him up to find out more.
Turns out, Monae hasn’t been laying idle. Far from it. She’s created a record label called Wondaland, which released Eephus, a compilation record of the featured artists. Monae and crew has been quoted as saying that their efforts are bigger than a record label – they’re a movement.
And with Jidenna leading the charge on the Wondaland label, you really can’t deny that there is an insane amount of talent. Aside from being visually stunning, the Wondaland crew mix a message with every catchy beat.
Jidenna’s single, “Classic Man,” talks about being true to yourself and upright in society. In the video, Jidenna and crew are teaching students about everything from chemistry to chess, and he even calls off a group of overeager police officers. There’s no denying that there’s more to this artist than a suit and a beat.
In addition to the charmer that is Jidenna, Monae has an arsenal of talented artists that will (hopefully) be releasing their own tracks soon.
St. Beauty is a folky, female duo that have silky voices. I can’t wait to hear what all they have in store. Deep Cotton are a male duo that mix everything from rock to funk and have been featured on other Monae songs.
Roman GianArthur was featured on “Classic Man,” and hits home with soul and wailing guitar playing.
There’s so much texture and solidity to this lineup and I can’t wait to see where they take their music. They come from a humble background and with Monae at the helm, she resonates as the queen of Wondaland.