Janelle Monáe - Q.U.E.E.N. (Feat. Erykah Badu)

All the dizzyingly inventive aspects of her music are present in these five minutes.

Posted 25th April 2013, 3:29pm in Track Reviews, by Martyn Young
janelle monae

It’s been three long years since Janelle Monáe’s magnum opus ‘The ArchAndroid’. Of course, for an artist as boundlessly ambitious and daring as she is any follow up is bound to be lovingly and carefully considered: Janelle Monáe doesn’t do anything by halves. Those three years have been spent concocting the next passage in the future vision of this most extraordinary artist.

‘Q.U.E.E.N.', which features Erykah Badu, acts as the opening manifesto for Monáe’s next overarching concept album ‘The Electric Lady’, and all the dizzyingly inventive aspects of her music are present in these five minutes. The first two feature a wonderful strutting electro-funk groove illuminated by bold stabs that only Monáe could really pull off. This is arguably as close as any artist has come to emulating the effortless sound of prime Eighties Prince.

The song deals with familiar themes of empowerment and self-belief with an unfettered glee. There are too many quotable lyrics to mention. "Am I freak for dancing around? Am I freak for getting down?" she sings, celebrating individuality in a swelling ocean of homogeneity.

The track's final two minutes are arguably more impressive. Sprightly electro funk gives way to floating horns and sweeping strings that allow the lyrics to go a little bit deeper. Badu’s rhymed verse is very special indeed. Her whip smart on-point rhymes soar over some gorgeous strings. “Categorize me, I defy every label,” is a perfect line to represent the work of these two outstanding artists as heard to brilliant effect on this striking single.

'Q.U.E.E.N.' is out now.
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