Janelle Monae Hoping To Redefine The Role Of Black Women In Music
Janelle Monae recalls selling CDs out of a boarding house in Atlanta and reveals the inspiration behind "The Electric Lady" title of her new album.
On top of her signature vocals, Atlanta-based songstress Janelle Monae has become quite well-known for her ever-present updo and her black and white attire. And according to the singer, she was quick to inform label reps about her unwillingness to give up her personal style to become the “regurgitation of another female artist.”
During her interview with the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, Janelle went on to state that her unique style was also a means of redefining what it means to be a woman of color in the music industry.
“When I got my new distribution deal, it was just important that Atlantic and everybody knew ‘Listen, I’m gonna be wearing my hair like this. I just developed this hairstyle. I’m gonna be rocking black and white. And this is what I want the music industry to see.’ I don’t want to come in and be [the] regurgitation of another female artist. I want to come in and redefine what it means to be a black female artist in the music industry,” The ArchAndroid creator revealed.
Although Janelle Monae currently serves as one of the newest faces at Cover Girl and plans on releasing her sophomore album in only a matter of days, it was just a few years ago when the singer was selling CDs out of a boarding home in Atlanta while employed at Office Depot.
“I was living with six other girls and just releasing my music independently,” Janelle said. “I would press it up and sell it for $5. People would knock on my door and if I wasn’t at home, cause I was working at Office Depot at that time, and so my roommates would help me sell it and I just developed that following right in the AU [Atlanta University Center]. And then I went to an open mic night at Justin’s and Big Boi from Outkast was there and he saw me. And he helped me release my first national song, ‘Letting Go.’”
In regards to her upcoming album, The Electric Lady, Janelle Monae says the idea for the project’s title came as she was working on a handful of paintings. Thanks to her artwork, the idea of the electric lady came to fruition and with it thoughts of love, politics, religion, etc. as seen through the eyes of the electric lady.
“I was having a hard time coming up with names and I ended up just listening to the energy that I felt from each painting,” Janelle said. “And so, the words that came to my spirit were ‘the electric lady.’ And I started to think about a world where there were more electric ladies, a new breed, a strong woman. And I started to think about ‘Well, what does the electric lady think about love, politics, religion, sexuality?’ And all of that helped me write the album. And so, I’m really interested in creating a world where there are more electric ladies. And we’re not defined by our skin color or our hair texture, but we’re defined by wanting to nurture the community.”
The Electric Lady will be released on September 10 via Bad Boy Records/Wondaland Arts Society.