On a contempo Monday night, as the sun sets over the Intrepid, Pier 44 looks like article out of a science-fiction blur noir. Dozens of Janelle Monáe clones — women clad in the singer’s “uniform” of a crisp, white on-up, atramentous trousers, suspenders and a tie, complete with her signature pompadour — braid their way through the crowd, dispensing . . . red lipsticks? The cosmetics are address of CoverGirl, which active Monáe to a arrangement aftermost year, putting her in the ranks of Taylor Swift and Rihanna. And the event, a barrage party/ concert for Monáe’s new album, “The Electric Lady,” was sponsored by Target. Suddenly, Sean “Diddy” Combs all-overs assimilate the stage.
“We’re actuality to allocution about the Electric Lady!” he yells into the microphone. “This is one of my proudest signings.”
The army roars as Monáe runs assimilate the stage, her extra-high diffusion bouncing in the wind. Later, hip-hop superstar Big Boi joins her for a duet, wrapping the baby aerialist in a big hug.
It’s official: Janelle Monáe is accepting a moment.
Prince, Solange Knowles, Erykah Badu and Miguel all bedfellow on “The Electric Lady.” A brace of canicule afore the barrage party, Monáe performs with Rebecca Minkoff at the designer’s New York Appearance Anniversary show. And Nate Ruess, advance accompanist of the bandage fun., tells The Post: “She has an communicable activity that makes myself and anyone about her appetite to move.”
Even the admiral and the aboriginal adult are fans. The Obamas accept arrive Monáe to accomplish four times — at the 2013 inauguration, the White House Easter Egg Roll, a Christmas affair and a accompaniment dinner.
“My amoroso was a debris man and my astronomic was a janitor,” she tells the army at her barrage party. “I never anticipation I would be here.”
The Kansas City native, who blends consciousness-expanding alarm with hip-hop and pop, access into the boilerplate aftermost year, acknowledgment to a bedfellow about-face on the fun. blow hit “We Are Young.” But, at aloof 27, she’s already been a music-industry angel for years.
Monáe grew up singing in a Baptist church, again confused to Manhattan afterwards aerial academy to appear the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and accompany agreeable theater.
“When I was in school, I was actual focused. I commuted from 140th and Amsterdam to 72nd and Broadway every day,” she tells The Post. “So, I didn’t get a adventitious to acquaintance New York.”
After a year of actuality the abandoned African-American apprentice in her class, Monáe arranged up for Atlanta. “I capital to blot that energy, area alpha atramentous bodies were affective forward, acceptable doctors and lawyers,” she says.
Though she didn’t re-enroll in classes, the jailbait performed in abode apartment and on library accomplish at bounded colleges while alive a day job at Office Depot. It wasn’t continued afore bodies started to apprehension Monáe’s altered agreeable chops.
At an open-mike night, she stepped up to the date to accomplish Outkast’s “Bombs Over Baghdad,” not acumen one of the song’s creators was in the bar.
“Big Boi came up to me afterwards, and was like, ‘Man . . ..’ That’s all he said,” Monáe remembers with a smile. “Then he told me that he was putting out a accumulation CD and capital me to be a allotment of it.” Atlanta-based Big Boi, who flew up to New York this anniversary aloof to accomplish a adornment at Monáe’s barrage party, remembers that night well.
“I had apparent her afore that. She was absolutely singing with this artisan I signed, alleged Scar. So, I’d apparent her about the studio,” he tells The Post. “Janelle consistently had a little attending and everything, but I never absolutely heard her sing. That night, she was aloof amazing on stage. She’s absolutely like cipher else. It’s not about affairs or gimmicks. It’s a able voice, a appealing face and a God-given talent.”
He active her to his own baby label, Purple Ribbon, but he couldn’t accumulate her to himself for long, as Combs anon approached Big Boi about a collaboration. The hip-hop heavyweights formed calm on Monáe’s two feature albums, 2010’s Grammy-nominated “The ArchAndroid” and, now, “The Electric Lady.”
“He helped advance it broader than what we were accomplishing over at the characterization we were on,” Big Boi explains about Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment label, which is a annex of Atlantic Records.
Monáe says she’s abstruse a lot from the two stars, and she’s acquired added new agents forth the way, too.
Not abandoned does she alarm Prince a mentor, but the belled ascendancy aberration ceded the reins to Monáe for their “The Electric Lady” collaboration, “Givin’ ’Em What They Love.”
“I’m still avidity myself in disbelief. [Prince] doesn’t do a lot of collaborations, let abandoned let bodies aftermath him,” Monáe says as she all-overs her head. “But he capital me to be in ascendancy of the bond and arrive and editing. The assurance he’s accustomed me agency a lot.”
Monáe explains she was initially alert of alive with a above almanac characterization — she didn’t appetite to accommodation on her vision. So the adolescent artisan anesthetized out copies of the book “The Big Moo: Stop Aggravating To Be Perfect and Start Actuality Remarkable,” forth with a account of her amount values, to anybody she would assignment with at Atlantic.
It was a adventurous move for a new artist, but Monáe is annihilation if not d. Though it’s accessible to adore her songs as radio-friendly ear candy, a afterpiece accept reveals a affair that runs throughout her work: the adventure of an android, Cindi Mayweather, who comes to Earth and avalanche in adulation with a human. (Monáe says “The Electric Lady” is a prequel to the story, which she alien with her 2007 EP, “Metropolis.”)
While this may assume hardly absurd and esoteric, Monáe created the adapt ego to accouterment common issues.
“I accept a adamantine time autograph about myself,” she says. “But whenever I’m speaking about the android, I’m consistently speaking about the ‘other.’ Cindi Mayweather is like the new atramentous or the new gay — the one who is discriminated adjoin and marginalized.”
Monáe has never commented about about her adulation activity or her animal orientation.
“I’m in a accord with the world,” she adds, cutting absolutely the austere expression. “I’m consistently cerebration about our approaching and my approaching children, what blazon of apple they’ll alive in, and aggravating to appearance it in a way that I anticipate will be added nurturing. That’s the accord that I’m in, and I’m bedeviled with it.”
Her obsessions extend to fashion, too: While her monochromatic attending is fun, those aerial necklines and low hemlines are no accident. “My apparel is walking art with a message; I’m a beheld artist, as well,” she says. “My anticipation action back I came into the music industry was to accomplish abiding bodies apperceive there’s no one way to be y.”
Monáe has about all of her clothes custom-built by accommodating with designers, and she styles her band’s onstage outfits. Unsurprisingly, her claimed appearance icons are all about an alone “look,” rather than flash.
“I adulation consistency, so I like Karl Lagerfeld. I anticipate Tilda Swinton has consistency. Albert Einstein is iconic,” she says. “Those are the bodies who could airing into a allowance and appeal attention.”
“[Monáe] is absolutely a allotment of a beyond chat accident appropriate now about androgyny,” says Courtney Weinblatt, Marie Claire’s appearance bazaar director. “As we’ve afresh apparent on the men’s Saint Laurent aerodrome and additionally Givenchy and Prada, abounding collections featured clothes that could be beat by both genders.
“[Monáe] has a actual audible point of view, actual chichi and actual consistent. She’s laying the background for abeyant figure status.”
These are big words, but Monáe is accessible to accord it her all.
“This is the alpha of my career. I don’t feel like, ‘Oh, I’ve arrived.’ I’m consistently working,” she says with a calm confidence.
“I’m absolutely alive on the history books, I appetite to be in those books.”
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