Janelle Monae | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Janelle Monae Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Mon., March 29, 8 p.m. and Tue., March 30, 8 p.m. 2010

Janelle Monae's career has been in slow wind-up mode for so long (three years, two EPs) that it's easy to confuse her situation for a failure to launch. She's had hype and press and big tours the whole time, plus a neat long-form video where she plays a tap-dancing robot—and finally, due in May, a proper long player, ArchAndroid (Atlantic). The "female Andre 3000" tag still applies, but she could also hold her own as a third member of OutKast—she has the voice, the talent, and the barely distilled Funkadelic I'm-from-another-world vibe. (She's got a lot of soul for a robot.) "Tightrope," the lead single, has her paired with Big Boi, backed by tight horn arrangements and upright bass; it recalls "Hey Ya" in its handclapping thump and its undeniability. Her songs have a total ease with pop hooks (Diddy produced, go figure), but in their frills and details she keeps her weirdness intact. 3/29 is 18+. —Jessica Hopper

Price: $14

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