Back in 1994, Harve Pierre urged Bad Boy upstart Craig Mack to "kick that old robotic, futuristic, George Jetson crazy joint," which later became "Flava In Ya Ear." The post-Notorious B.I.G. era has seen many of the label's artists experience a failure to launch due to failed crossover attempts and the occasional, televised cheesecake run. But Janelle Monae could be the one to finally deliver the necessary departure from the norm.
On her debut EP, Metropolis: The Chase Suite, Monae goes way past anything ever conjured up on The Jetsons. The transplant ATLien incorporates elements from Blade Runner, and Fritz Lang's obscure 1927 sci-fi classic, which her debut draws its name from. Comprised of only a scant five songs, if you opt for the standard version, Metropolis is a brief, yet potent listen. Her apprenticeship as a part of Big Boi's Purple Ribbon label yields "Violent Stars Happy Hunting!" which boasts a retro-funk beat on par with Andre 3000's turn on "Hey Ya." On the former, Monae casts herself as the deluxe android Cindi Mayweather singing, "I'm an alien from outer space/I'm a cyber-girl without a face, a heart or a mind."
Even without the random interplanetary references and notions of forbidden robot love, Metropolis has the type of production that takes its cues from something made in the past, as well as the future. The drums hit hard, and when combined with the synth keys, strings and the occasional electric guitar, they make for an oddly enjoyable mix.
But the real treats start when Diddy's prot