SXSW has sadly come and gone, but a few acts have emerged from the Austin heat as the festival’s most-discussed. That list definitely includes the bizarro, hyper-stylized alt-R&B singer Janelle Monae. Poised to (possibly) break out in a major way, Monáe certainly has the pedigree to justify the buzz. Once a protege of fellow Atlantan Big Boi, Monae signed to Bad Boy Records last year, thereby making Diddy one of her biggest cheerleaders. “Janelle Monae is one of the most important signings of mycareer,” Diddy said in a statement last year.
Though touted as everything from the next Michael Jackson to the female JamesBrown, Monae clearly has her own sound and style. Usually garbed in a dapper suit-and-tie – and sporting some sort of combination of a mohawk and Afro – the lady stands out in a crowd.
So, what’s the problem? Well, her music is, shall we say, odd. Her dense, other-worldly songs manage to sound both futuristic and like a throwback to Motown. While interesting, her mass-appeal is questionable. But then, Monae seems like a love-her-or-hate-her artist who isn’t going to change for the sake of commercial success. In other words, the next Rihanna or Beyonce she ain’t. Her closest contemporaries might be Santigold and M.I.A., although it’s hard to say without hearing a full album. (The debut record is rumored to be set for later this year.)
Check out the video below and tell us what you think. Are you digging Monae’s unconventional vibe, or is she yet another example of an artist whose buzz been artificially created by the Internet?