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Janelle Monae - 'Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition)'

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Janelle Monae - 'Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition)'
© Bad Boy/Wonderland Arts.

The Bottom Line

Though she's new to the mainstream, the quirky, highly-talented singer Janelle Monae has been putting out music for years. Her five-song Metropolis - Suite I: The Chase EP was originally released back in August 2007. But now that she's inked a deal with Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Records label, the rare, hard-to-find album has been re-released with a new name - Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition) - and two additional songs. If you've heard the original version of the EP, there's no need to pick this up unless you're a diehard fan, but if this is your first exposure to Janelle's music, you're in for a treat.
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Pros

  • Wild Creativity.
  • Exreme Originality.
  • Excellent Singing.
  • A Fresh Concept.

Cons

  • Only Seven Songs, Including an Instrumental.
  • The Last Two Songs Don't Fit the Album's Theme.

Description

  • A Futuristic Soap Opera.
  • A Forbidden Love Story.
  • An Action-Adventure Tale.

Guide Review - Janelle Monae - 'Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition)'

Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition), released in the U.S. on Aug. 12, 2008, is basically a space opera - at least its five previously-released songs are. As established on the opening track, "The March of the Wolfmasters," its the far future and an android named Cindi has fallen in love with a human named Anthony, which is against the law. Faced with mandatory disassembly, Cindi goes on the run and is pursued by bounty hunters.

The EP's first five songs, which follow Cindi's journey, are completely brilliant. Janelle's singing is excellent, particularly on the funky "Many Moons" and the beautiful "Sincerely, Jane." The album's hard to categorize, though: it's definitely not traditional R&B, but more of a mix of alternative pop, Soul and hip-hop, with a few R&B harmonies mixed in. Imagine if OutKast's Andre 3000 was a woman and could sing as well as he raps and you get the idea. In fact, Metropolis was co-executive produced by the other half of OutKast, Antwan "Big Boi" Patton.

The part where the album suffers slightly is the two songs tacked on at the end, "Mr. President" and "Smile." Not that the songs themselves are bad - quite the opposite - but this is a concept album, and they're completely contrary to the concept. After five songs of a futuristic soap opera, the album totally switches gears with, "Mr. President," a very earthly social commentary track about hard economic times: "Dear Mr. President, I hope you got the letter I sent/A dollar only goes so far, and we need health care, no matter who we are," she sings. The vocals, lyrics and meaning are all appreciated, but the song sticks out like a sore thumb. So does the final track, "Smile," where Janelle's vocals float hauntingly over very little instrumentation. "Mr. President" and "Smile," while brilliant, were bad choices for inclusion on the EP.

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