See Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu Escape Their Space-Shackles in ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’
Neo-soul power duo fight stereotypes in video
Late last month, we heard the first taste of Janelle Monáe’s second album — The Electric Lady, due out this fall — and it was hardly your standard hype-building fare. “Q.U.E.E.N.” is a self-empowering soul-funk workout featuring a beguiling guest turn by fellow iconoclast Erykah Badu. The song shouts out twerking in front of the mirror, playfully challenges sexual mores, teases the self-righteous and jostles racial stereotypes before arriving at its thesis: “Categorize me? / I defy every label.” Now the track has a video to go with and it’s just as good. Building on the sci-fi themes of Monáe’s masterful debut, The ArchAndroid, we pick up in a distant future where a tyrannical organization has created a “Living Museum” stocked with “time-traveling rebels” caught in suspended animation. These, of course, are Monáe and her band (as recently seen thrashing Coachella), plus “her dangerous accomplice Badoula Oblangata” — not the type to hold still for long. Dig the revolution, and don’t forget to #expressyourself along the way.