In Living Colour: Janelle Monaé
Desire. Triumph. Prestige.
A trifecta of terms I associate with this musician’s impressive body of work. Ms. Janelle Monáe Robinson, the resident queen of cool, cultivates her own brand of smooth with her wide artillery of cultural references. From classic Disney, to abstract-expressionist painters, to psychedelia, and the apocalypse, Janelle Monáe has graduated from star student to ultimate connoisseur with her genre-bending palette of influences. Homegirl has proven her versatility with collaborators ranging from Big Boi, and Grimes to Of Montreal— demonstrating her taste for the very finest fruit from each respective tree.
Earlier this month, the Android caused quite a stir with the release of two new singles from her upcoming studio album, Dirty Computer. Whether this project continues the epic adventure-romance of Cindi Mayweather and Sir Greendown from her seven-part Metropolis series (two characters I’ve grown to love through song alone) is not yet known. However, the virtuosity expressed within these two accompanying visuals hint at a new story to animate in living colour. Considering the black and white signature generally associated with Ms. Monáe, to witness and discuss her full embrace of the spectrum was quite an opportunity.
Make Me Feel
Standouts: The Bisexual Tricolor (done in lavender, periwinkle, and fuchsia)
Emotion: lusty, flirtatious, alluring; watching someone watching you from across the dancefloor.
Significance: Kudos to the wonderful Alan Ferguson for executing the vision of this “emotion picture.” The cool palette marries well with the burning funk of the track. These colors also seem to transport us back to a picture-perfect night out in ’84, with that newfound sexy shimmy thanks to the release of Purple Rain. Uniting the frequencies of both Monáe and Prince creates this knockout of black-queer excellence.
Standouts: Pan-Africanist (earthy reds, forest greens, licorice and gold)
Emotion: firm, regal, natural; pride in its most lavish sense.
Significance: Warm but not hot. Rich and not saturated. This palette takes influence from those commonly used in different Black Liberation movements and present in most flags of African countries today. Let those facts alone be the genesis of all the Black glory ever-present in the video and lyrics. What is most effective? How complementary these colors are next to this Highly Melanated individual.
Black girl magic, can y’all stand it?