VIDEO: Janelle Monåe | The Return of Artistry in R&B, Soul, & Hip Hop

Janelle Monae has been on the scene for a brief minute. Clearly, she’s here to stay!

Monae’s style is equivalent to an equinoctial point. In other words, she’s distinctive in fashion, beauty, and music and there’s no one like her. If so, they too are very rare, appearing infrequently throughout a life’s cycle of entertainment, and soon to disappear.

VIDEO: Janelle Monae’s “Q.U.E.E.N.” f/ Erykah Badu

Yesterday, two of our absolute favorites – Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu – unleashed a brand new video, “Q.U.E.E.N.

“Q.U.E.E.N.” is the first single from Monae’s forthcoming album Electric Lady; and it’s probably the funkiest thing you’ll hear all year!

Only two R&B phenoms like Janelle and Erykah could give us something like this.

Check out “Q.U.E.E.N.” below:

For Your Consideration: Summer M.’s Movie Pitch

It’s awards season. And although I did not spend a tremendous amount of time in the movie theater, I learned a thing or two about what’s hot in Hollywood, which might be summed up in the following tweet from Erykah Badu:


Judging from the trailers I sometimes catch while watching television, this observation seems about right. There are two billboards within three blocks of my home: one of a few pale white people (Twilight) and one of Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained). The combination of Badu’s tweet along with the deluge of for and against commentary I’ve seen clog up my various social media timelines about Taratino’s now Golden Globe-winning project, I think now is the right time for me to pitch a film project that encapsulates Hollywood’s current obsession with the garlic-allergic and the enslaved. Check out my one page after the jump.

THINGS FALL APART: What Happened To Hip Hop's Conscience?

Has anyone else been wondering what happened to the socially conscious voice in Hip Hop music?

Yes, I’m aware that there are plenty of emcees out there in the underground with tons of relevant shit to say. But what about the mainstream? There used to be some semblance of balance in Hip Hop. There was a time when a Neo Soul/alternative Hip Hop movement was a visual, popular alternative to the violence, misogyny, and materialism of mainstream Hip Hop. It was a time when that gorgeous and supernaturally gifted actress from Sister Act 2 became the de facto leader of that movement, and the spokeswoman for a generation.

This article is a love letter to that glorious movement, and an explanation as to why it faded away.

Do we still play Black Girlhood Games? Little Sallie Walker Vs. Nicki Minaj’s Vibe Magazine Cover

Little Sally Walker
Sitting in her Saucer
Rise Sally Rise
Wipe your Blinking Eyes
Put your Hands on your hip and let your backbone slip
Oh, shake it to the very one you love the best

I remember playing Little Sally Walker with the neighborhood girls. Each one of us had an authentic way of rising and letting our backbone slip. Some put hands on hips. Some went handless and allowed their pre-puberty bodies to sway to the rhythm of the chanting.  Now, that I look back on it, in some very fundamental ways we learned about our bodies . . . how to shake them . . . how to shimmy them . . . how to whirl them . . . ultimately in pursuit of the  “one you love the best.” We did all of this within the safe space of a girl circle.

Yes, boys would come and tease us and some very brave, but yet foolish souls would attempt to break the circle up only to be met with fire pink nails scratched into their boyish faces. Our dance circle and girlhood chanting was for us and not for them. Mind you, the same boy we scratched in the face was usually the same boy we made out with behind the garage later in the day, but that was later in the day not while we were playing Ms. Mary Mac, Twee Lee Lee, and Mama Lama.

Janelle Monae's "The ArchAndroid": A STAR IS BORN

Combining the fearlessly experimental, quirky soul disposition of Erykah Badu, the Afro-futurist bent of Parliament/Funkadelic and OutKast, along with a complete mastery of an indefinable, genre-jumping form of pop music (ala Prince, Michael Jackson), Janelle Monae’s The ArchAndroid will at the very least impress the hell out of you.

Clocking it at about 70 minutes, and pulling from practically every and any genre you can imagine, what is initially stunning about Monae is how capably she bends and contorts her voice and persona into such varied musical settings, and yet crafts an album that is cohesive and meticulously organized. The ArchAndroid is a sprawling, jaw-droppingly fresh and relevant debut album from a young artist possessed with an intense reverence for her pop and soul forbearers, as well as the kind of raw talent, charisma and ambition that may see her reach those same heights one day.

It’s hard to call something an instant classic when it’s only been out for a week. But fuck it, I’m calling it now: Janelle Monae’s The ArchAndroid is an instant classic, and I am almost sure that it will be massively influential on the future of popular music.

Eating iChips By the Waters of Babylon

The other night, some friends and I were hanging out in a hotel room listening to music.  At some point, the Eric Benet song “Ghetto Girl” featuring Meshell Ndegocello (dude, I know. I assure you that it was not my iPod. I’m not saying I don’t have the album, I’m just saying it ain’t on my iPod.), and for the life of me I couldn’t remember what album the song appeared on.  Neither could anyone else.  But we were all too lazy to grab one of our web-enabled phones to Wiki the query and scratch the curiosity itch.  I joked that these were the kinds of moments when some kind of transparent Google page needed to appear as if in midair so that one could type in the question without having to move from one’s very relaxed position.  Someone asked where something like that would generate; I shrugged and replied that maybe it would be like a kind of projection from our eye that just appeared in front of our face.  My friend, Imi said it would be called an iChip, and it would probably be inserted in your brain just behind your ear.

A Southern Gul, Southern Genius Feeding Her Own Meter

Though I am ostensibly a U.S. Citizen (some days it feels tenuous as hell), I also have a Crunchy Nation green card, which means my Twitter feed was full of earth mother goddesses, headwraps, and the like drooling over Erykah Badu’s new video for “Window Seat,” the lead single from her album, New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh.  They think it’s genius; they are probably right.  Erykah Badu makes the best music videos ever.