Monday, September 29, 2008

::Janelle Monae::Many Moons (video)::

Well, it's finally here!

This officially consummates the Bad Boy/ Janelle Monae union in my mind. Instead of simply re-releasing her EP and tacking on a few songs, they actually gave her a descent budget for a dope video and are promoting it as a single. AND...they obviously let her take the reigns on the treatment. That speaks volumes. Not to mention the result is so rich in allegory and substance. Who would have ever conceived that Diddy would take a gamble on deviating from his patented ghetto fabulous formula? Man, y'all 'bout to witness a grown man cry.

I've been following Janelle Monae for a minute now. It's exhilarating to see how she's come into her own as an artist and a performer. It's also refreshing to see someone vault into the mainstream trying to take Black music to the next level. God, she's like the Octavia Butler of music. Yeah, I know how lazy it is to make comparisons to established figures. But this is no weak parallel. Yes, they're both Black women who dabble in sci-fi. But they don't dabble in sci-fi for the sake of dabbling in sci-fi. There's truth to the adage that all art is political in some way.

In the video, Monae's alter ego Cindy Mayweather is an android programmed to not exhibit human emotion. She's an android prototype performing at an android auction to what appears to be a concert hall of thousands. Designed to simply do the will of her owner, Mayweather performs while she is simultaneously being bid on by spectators/ concert goers. However, when it is discovered that she does in fact have human emotion, she is "reprogrammed." Here's how: near the end of the "Many Moons" video, you witness her character start to "malfunction." In response to this, the character Lady Maestra - Master of the Show Droids (on horseback dressed in equestrian riding gear) sends a crippling current of electricity to bring Mayweather back to her "senses."

Get it?
Ok, I'll wait...

The trope of the whip, the slave, the slave auction, the slave master, and characters in the video like Deep Cotton couldn't have been more clear. Well, maybe just to discerning minds. But it's also interesting how Monae ties all these tropes in with the analogy of entertainment and live performance. Hmm...anybody want to expound on my theory? I'll pass the torch here...

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