Vibe Talks with Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe Talks Upcoming Single, Video and Diddy: “I’m His Boss”

When your album is one of the most anticipated releases of 2010, such pressure on most artists would be crushing. But not for Janelle Monáe. With her full-length debut The ArchAndroid set to drop on May 18, and its first single “Tightrope” (featuring one-time mentor Big Boi of OutKast fame) still making noise, the soul-rock rebel is already gearing up for her next musical statement.

“My next single is “Cold War” and we already shot the video,” Monáe told VIBE of the dramatic clip. “I actually saw it for the first time a few days ago. It’s touching…it makes me cry every time I watch it. It’s a very venerable song and moment and video for me.” For the original treatment of the video, Monáe envisioned a movie-style feel for “Cold War’s” overtly emotional, theatrical lyricism. “But it was a one-take shot and I decided to leave it at that,” she explains. “I had more intended for it, but once I saw this one-take I said, ‘oh, this is it.’ This is what I connected to most.”

One other aspect of the ArchAndroid project that still has many music fans talking is her surprising union with Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records. Witnessing the more mainstream, commercial centered Diddy join up with the left field, genre-jumping Monáe is indeed a head-scratcher. But Monáe believes that longtime fans need not worry.

“Well, this is a partnership and it’s a very unique one,” she says of her Bad Boy affiliation. “I have my own recording label, the Wonderland Arts Society. Sean Combs came into my life while I was already releasing Metropolis Suite I of IV: The Chase. He’s a huge champion of the Wonderland Arts Society and myself. He’s an endorser of our campaign, mission and message. Further more, I’m his boss [laughs]. This is not the story of man meets artist…he respects me for who I am. And he respects our ideas. He’s been very supportive of what’s going on; he wants to help us expose our message to the mainland.”

Janelle Monáe is scheduled to open up dates for Erykah Badu’s upcoming Out My Mind, Just In Time tour starting May 23 in Boston.—Keith Murphy

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