Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu are no strangers to each other. They’ve consistently toured with each other since Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) and endearingly call each other “Twin” over their Twitter accounts. Now, the two have teamed up for “Q.U.E.E.N.”, the first single off Monae’s slated 2013 The Electric Lady.
On “Q.U.E.E.N.”, brilliant shades of brass instrumentation fill the stereo image of the track, and even the jazzed out “Ba-bom-ba-bomp!” create a vibe so influenced by the groove of the track that the mood of movement in both the physical and sociological sense is forced to be recognized.
Like a lot of Janelle’s music, the lyrical content covers overcoming repression, celebrating your inner outcast. Mostly, and this is no exception, it’s done in reference toward a cyborg world. In pure funked out style, she questions “Is it peculiar that she twerk in the mirror?” Continuing, “And am I weird to dance alone late at night? And is it true we’re all insane?” before finally closing the first part of the second verse out with “and I just tell ’em, ‘No we ain’t’ and get down.” Throughout the verses lies a great sense of vocal doubling, harmonies, and various delays. All together, the vocal production on Jane’s vocals are just as lively as the instrumentation itself.
Erykah’s presence rests through the background vocals of the track, riding along adlibs and callouts that are mixed lower in the stereo mix. Interestingly enough, the vocals aren’t too focused on with production techniques. Toward the middle of the track, we can’t help but think of the song “Booty” on Badu’s Mama’s Gun. She begins her verse, still mixed in a more modest tone, bringing a chilled out feel toward the breakdown section she’s wildly a part of, ending her verse telling us that “Come home and sing your song. But you got to testify because the booty don’t lie.”
“My crown too heavy like the Queen Nefertiti. Gimme back my pyramid, I’m trying to free Kansas City,” she raps in spoken word format. You’re out, dear. If this is what we have to look forward to on the always eclectic Janelle Monae’s next effort, we’re absolutely bracing ourself to trust our booty, serving face, and refusing to dream of electric sheep.
Purchase “Q.U.E.E.N.” on iTunes. Released April 23rd, 2013