Can we talk about how fantastic and utterly imaginative Janelle Monae is? Her new single “Tightrope” from her awaited May LP The Archandroid (2010) is a polished, fresh example of Janelle’s funky blend of old-school soul and futuristic robot jams.
Janelle has a penchant for cyborg-themed music and videography, and she’s also got a pretty powerhouse voice. “Tightrope” lets her show off her verbal acrobatics with quick-step verses balanced by a more ballad-worthy chorus that makes Janelle sounds like a sweeter version of Amy Winehouse. She’s captured the jazzy, retro sound of classic funk/soul but infuses it with a contemporary twist — including guest Big Boi of Outkast (who delivers a rap interlude with references ranging from “Macbook” to “NASDAQ” and “ass crack”). The backup brass + turntable blend sounds sometimes like something that could accompany the Jetsons.
No experience of “Tightrope” is complete without the visual accompaniment. In the video, Janelle seems trapped in some sort of asylum inhabited by Michael Jackson’s fleet-footed androids and crackly video-faced hooded figures like the ones from Harry Potter. Janelle is playfully vintage + modern, with a crazy pompadour and saddle shoes. While Big Boi delivers his silly rap, her crew busts out moves worthy of the Matrix movies.
Check out the entire album May 18th.