Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid

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It's rare that one can be equally pleased with an album as background music or as an immersive listening experience, but The ArchAndroid treads that fine line with seeming effortlessness.

For how watered-down and clichéd the modern –day Hip Hop landscape has become, today’s R&B is even more so. With few notable exceptions, today’s R&B artists are either busy pretending that they’re thugs, or simply pushing hyper-sexualized lyrics that deal only with “the good life.”

Of course, to call DXnext alum Janelle Monáe an R&B artist wouldn’t quite do her justice. So what would? The female Andre 3000? A Soul singer? Afro punk? The truth is, all of these labels are limited, and if one thing is true about Ms. Monáe, it is this: limitations do not apply.

The ArchAndroid picks up where Monáe’s 2008 EP, Metropolis Suite I of IV: The Chase leaves off, chronicling  the exploits of Cindy Mayweather, an android trying to escape persecution for falling in love. The story itself isn’t what makes The ArchAndroid (and its predecessor) remarkable – it borrows heavily from George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Rather, it is the execution of these literary themes in a musical medium that makes it such a gem.

It’s difficult to determine what’s more striking – The ArchAndroid’s production, or Monáe’s performance over it. This album is easily the most smartly-produced of 2010, and possibly of the past several years. Nothing is off-limits here: whether it’s the futuristic percussion on “Dance or Die,” the soft acoustic guitar and odd synth keys of “Sir Greendown,” or the heavy electric guitar of “Mushrooms & Roses,” the music keeps the listener constantly on their toes. Just as dynamic is Monáe, who fluctuates between primal chants, her own brand of rapping, straight crooning with her deceptively powerful voice – “Come Alive” is particularly enlightening in that respect, for those uninformed – and everything in between.

The faithfulness with which Janelle Monáe commits to her album’s concept should also be commended. The pace of each song is carefully chosen to convey how urgent or personal each “scene” in Monáe’s story is. Furthermore, she infuses the entire album with powerful subtext, with strong themes of race, religion, and class. Carefully-chosen contributors to the project, including Saul Williams and Big Boi, are welcome additions who share Monáe’s vision, serve only to augment the final product.

It’s rare that one can be equally pleased with an album as background music or as an immersive listening experience, but The ArchAndroid treads that fine line with seeming effortlessness. With this release, Janelle Monáe proves what Metropolis’ reach did not extend her grasp; it’s one thing to execute in a five-track EP, but entirely another to do so for 18 cuts (three of which clock in at 5:42, 6:01 and 8:48). ArchAndroid is nothing short of stunning, and should serve as an example to those stuck exploring exhausted archetypes. Bring on Suite IV.



  • gg

    One of my favorite albums of all time. Skip button is not needed

  • Ha!

    Deserves a Grammy FOR SURE!!! Oh Maker, Dance or Die, Faster, Tightrope, Locked Inside, Neon Valley, Come Alive, are all GREAT!!! She is such a talented and different sound. LOVE HER!!! *side note* Diddy DON"T FUCK this up....

  • hello young world

    Dope shit from Janelle!!!

  • jspeed04

    Beautiful album. needs to be listened to in its entirety to fully appreciate how great it is. Janelle goes hard on this joint!

  • Marcel S Williams




  • NikiO

    I don't know how Janelle Monae slipped under my musical radar. I heard Many Moons last year in a store and thought it different and catchy, but i didn't pay much attention to it (I did nothing more than google her). However, I listened to Metropolis recently and realised that the song makes much more sense when listened to as part of a story. So I decided to do the same with The ArchAndroid and listened to the album during my drive home. From the first track, I was like one transfixed by a movie unable to leave my car as each song flowed seemlessly into the other sinking its hooks and drawing me deeper into the world of Cindi Mayweather and Sir Greendown. Finally after runnign my car engine in the driveway for 20 minutes, I had to stop and continue with Suite III in the privacy of my room - sublime... Didn't think I could go from barely knowing (of) someone to her becoming my favourite artist (dare I say of all time...), 'cos I can think of any artist, male or female, who can match her range and talent. This diminutive woman is not only the messiah of the androids and cyberpeeps of metropolis, but, perhaps, the saviour of pop hitherto enslaved by the monotony of the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, (I hate to admit it) RiRi et al. I only pray that her record company and PR guys have what it takes to spread her message effectively. For someone so fresh, unique, beautiful and talented, she should be tearing up the airwaves and I wonder why she isn't. Maybe the world isn't ready for her gospel... N. O. Lagos, Nigeria

    • Eddie Cain

      yea man I love Janelle. She's incredible. I mean she might be on that Michael Jackson & Stevie Wonder level.

  • geniusweenus

    This album is McGenius !!! McLove all the collabs with Saul Williams, Big Boi, Of Montreal and Deep Cotton !!! We needed this album for this decade. McThanx Janelle Monae and the Wondaland Arts Society

  • Indiemuzik

    This is a rly good album and it deserves 5*'s. I bet most of the low ratings are from people who despise Diddy ( I hate him to but Janelle is pretty good).

  • GENE

    appreciate other music besides the same ole shit. this is refreshing in my opinion right along with distant relatives

  • Boomakat

    People havent heard music in a long time, now the finally can. Janelle, B.O.B. and Lupe are indeed music. regarless of genre. Keep it alive. F the rest

  • 607

    intelligence and forethought is becoming popular again. i'm smart enough to enjoy and properly document the approaching golden era. damn janelle u a beast

  • theCool

    Make the Bus is the only track I didn't like...no matter how many times I listen to it. But this album will be one of the best in 2010. This one gonna be hard to trump. This is Black art at its finest.

  • Grizzle

    WTF is up with this short ass review? I see an intro and a conclusion but no body. Is this a preview for the actual review that's yet to come or what? Did the reviewer fuck up and submit the rough draft by mistake? Somebody let me know.

    • theCool

      LMAO!!! ....you went off. but for real...you're right. This review does no justice to the album at all. It do seem a little half-assed. This album is one of the best I've heard in a llllooonnnngggg time. Janelle and the WAS did their thing.

  • Mattweezy

    A great album, i really like her singing and style. My Only complaint was the album wasnt as explosive as the EP she released in 08. Other than that, she's gonna be doin her thang for a long long time

  • krime

    Damn I'm surprised so many people on here like this album... See because this album is actually WORTH BUYING!!!.... Unlike the T'shirts they sell here on HiphopDX lmao haha

  • holdupni66asholduphos


  • Royal3

    This is a fuckin Timeless Classic. Almost Impossible to my ears. Not every track is a 5/5 but 14 5 Star tracks out of 18 is worth a listen. Most of the dumb fuck people won't understand just how legendary this album is tho.

  • KidWorthy

    Think i'll buy it twice!! there's at least 2 tracks to fit everyone's ears


    i got to buy this mane

  • brizza

    4.0 personally. Can't hold a candle to Sade... but then again who can. I recommend downloading this album because its not bad. If you are a fan of both slowed down and up tempo r&b music you should scoop it up. She has an amazing voice when she puts in effort. I dig the style, kinda reminds me of Badu at parts....

  • sun_god7

    Impressed. Her album is literally a movie. I actually pictured a movie when I listened to the album with my eyes closed this past sunday. Black art at it's best. If it does not get recognized now - it will 15-20 years from now as Black genius. You have to enjoy music other than HipHop and R&B to enjoy what Janelle & Big Boi did to make this album and concept work. Prince, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000 & Jimi Hendrix can all be heard on this album. But its' still her own sound. I kinda feel sorry for the limited average listeners who are caught up in the sound of corporate inspired music. Those that have slave-ears when judging music.

  • Ah Hell

    That song with Big Boi had me impressed. I'll look out for this. You go Janelle.

  • Houston Wiz- Kid

    This is a masterpiece from top to bottom, concept of album cannot be touched by any artist to ever exist, the most talented female i've ever heard..........I THINK I'M IN LOVE

  • The.Watcher

    This is an interesting album...I didn't really "like" it in the traditional sense of the word, but I do respect it for what it is. Overall, not my cup of tea, but still a very very good album.

  • soulja boy himself

    soulja boy tell em

  • The Music Majors

    ORIGINALITY AND A TRUE INNOVATOR! The Music Majors Affordable Music Production @ BUYBEATSTODAY.COM


    this is one of the greatest album i ever heard. this and Distant Relatives. this women is what we need. i love her. ima by this cuz its WORTH IT!!!!

  • BionicBrotha83

    To all the haters! This is one of the best albums to hit in 10 years! Thanl the Lord people like Beyonce of being phased out! Time for real music to come back, not this shake your ass shit we hear all the time! Keep your Rihannas, Drakes, lame ass lil Waynes! Time for a new day to come! Real music is coming back!

  • walaaaaaaa!

    wallllllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! jihad ice cream in heaven with virgins, this woman has no head dress!

  • 5_ward

    Yeah it is garbage maybe 4 good song the rest r lame thelast 2 tracks r nice tho

  • TZiggy

    There was only one track (Make The Bus) that was not absolutely in love with - which isn't even consistently true. Her versatility is unmatched. This is one of the most complete albums in a long time. Brilliant.



  • Wahrheit

    really surprised about this album... very nice

  • Gods_Son23

    good album. If ya'll can enjoy things other than hip hop, this is worth checking out.

  • The Ruler Starks

    Currently one of the best artist's

  • Robert Are

    This is a great album. Period.

  • Vocab

    Nothing short of brilliant, one of the best cd's to drop in a very long time. Just as good as her stellar debut ep.