Every once in a while I see something that just makes me glad I live in the future. If it weren’t 2010, how else could you see a mash-up of Metropolis, 70s glam rock, 70s prog rock, 40s musicals, disco, millennial hip hop, and James Brown?
Well, if you were more hip than I am, you could’ve seen all that in 2008, apparently, with Metropolis: The Chase Suite from Janelle Monáe. It was a concept album EP about Monáe’s alternate identity Cindi Mayweather, a rogue android who — actually, the liner notes explain it better than I could:
The year is 2719. Five World Wars have decimated the earth. To escape from the ecological destruction, mankind has banded together to create one last great city named Metropolis. Under the rule of the evil Wolfmasters, the city becomes a decadent wonderland known for its partying robo-zillionaires, riotous ethnic, race and class conflicts and petty holocausts….
Into this turbulent world is born Android No. 57821, an Alpha Platinum 9000 named Cindi Mayweather. Unlike other androids, Cindi’s programming includes a rock-star proficiency package and a working soul….
And the videos “explain” the brilliant nonsense better than that. In particular: the “short film” video for “Many Moons” from the Metropolis EP., which handles all the introductions:
And ArchAndroid is pretty much awesome; it’s tough to think of a musical style she doesn’t touch on in there — funk to big band to Hendrix-style psychedelic rock to straight-up disco. And I liked one of the comments in the Amazon reviews, that described it as somehow sounding even more cinematic and theatrical than a genuine soundtrack.
Big Boi of Outkast is a collaborator and executive producer on both records, and in fact you can’t hear the song “Violent Stars Happy Hunting!” (yeah, that’s the real title) from Metropolis without being reminded of “Hey Ya!” But more than that, I can’t watch or hear any of this stuff without being reminded of how “Hey Ya!” seemed to come out of nowhere — again, for the less hip among us — and blow me away.
But this is like if you took that and added robots!