“I heard this life is just a play with no rehearsal.”
The thinking person’s music idol, Janelle Monáe, has consistently delivered wonderfully realised concept albums but this year, I gotta give it up to her for nailing it with one song.
‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ – an 80s funk inspired number – is the forerunner of Monáe’s latest outing The Electric Lady. Since the last album’s critical success, we’ve seen Janelle’s star power quadruple. She played sell out shows everywhere she went, became a Cover Girl spokesperson and she is seen as a role model for young black women world over.
What I really enjoy about ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ is the sass, and the way it weaves themes of racial and gender equality with a very straightforward message of self-love. “Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am”.
Yes, the lyrics are thought-provoking and they challenge prejudice, but just like Monáe you can’t categorise ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ as being about one thing or another. It’s like a magazine flicking through different thoughts and questions, subtly connecting different humanitarian and cultural themes.
“Add us to equations, but they’ll never make us equal. She who writes the movie, owns the script and the sequel. So why ain’t the stealing of my rights made illegal? They keep us underground working hard for the greedy. But when it’s time to pay they turn around and call us needy.”
It’s rare to come across an intelligent and empowering anthem that also makes you want to dance. The musical backdrop of flamboyant synths, sly bass line and finger snaps sounds like a fabulous lovechild of Prince and Monáe. Long may the Electric Lady’s reign be.