Janelle Monáe is the “Q.U.E.E.N.” of funk on her fresh track featuring Erykah Badu. She posted the song, which serves as the lead single from her upcoming album The Electric Lady, on her website Monday, both posing plenty of questions in the lyrics and leaving fans with questions of their own.
Monáe’s punchy chorus asks, “Am I a freak for dancing round?/Am I a freak for getting down?”, working as an anthem of self-acceptance and girl power. Listen below.
Some outlets have speculated that “Q.U.E.E.N.”s message of individuality is also a reference to Monáe’s ambiguous sexuality. “Say will your God accept me in my black and white?/Will he approve the way I’m made/Or should I reprogram the programming?”
The songstress did not address the rumors, but posted on Twitter yesterday (April 23) that the song was inspired by “private discussions” between herself and Badu.
Late 2 class? “Q.U.E.E.N.”was inspired by private discussions between Erykah & me. JAM. DANCE. FUNK OUT. Listen in the car. dialogue later.
— Janelle Monae (@JanelleMonae) April 23, 2013
The singer told Billboard earlier this month that Badu is “a great friend to me; she’s like a big sister and it’s a song about private dialogue that she and I have had.”
Subject matter aside, the track’s layered production loses listeners in soulful ’60s-inspired bongos, percussive backing vocals and spoken asides alongside modern updates like synths and record scratches.
Part song, part poetry, Monáe contemplates her purpose as she sings, “I heard this life is just to play with no rehearsal/ I wonder, ‘Will this be my final act tonight?’/And tell me, what’s the price of fame?/ Am I a sinner with my skirt on the ground?”
In the spirit of the song’s feminine vibes, Monáe drops her signature menswear-inspired style on the single’s cover, where she and Badu rock straightened locks, sky-high false eyelashes and 60s-inspired makeup. With the track playing the background, one can almost imagine the pair primping together before a night out at some underground funk club.
“Q.U.E.E.N.” is Monáe’s first solo offering since 2010′s ArchAndroid, which featured the undoubtedly more poppy “Tightrope.” She also provided female vocals on fun.‘s breakout hit, the five-times-platinum summer anthem “We Are Young.” Perhaps the new stylistic direction of “Q.U.E.E.N.” is representative of the rest of The Electric Lady‘s tracklist. An official release date for the album is yet to be released, with Billboard reporting that a tour will likely follow.
- Nee-Sa Lossing, Radio.com