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I imagined many moons in the sky lighting the way to freedom.
Janelle Monáe Robinson, also known as Janelle Monáe, was born on December 1, 1985 in Kansas City, Kansas. As a child, she had always dreamed of being a performer on the stage. She left Kansas for New York to study theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. At first, Monáe aimed to become a performer on Broadway, but she changed her mind and went to music instead. She felt that music has the power to change the world. Later on, Monáe moved to Atlanta, GA, where she met Big Boi from OutKast and founded the Wondaland Arts Society. Big Boi introduced Monáe to Sean "P Diddy" Combs which led her to be signed to Bad Boy Records in 2006.
Excluding her latest album, Dirty Computer, and most songs from her self-published work, the Audition, Monáe's songs tell the story of the futuristic dystopia of Metropolis and Cindi Mayweather, a popular musician android and prototype for the equally popular, mass-produced Alpha Platinum 3000 droid model. Cindi falls in love with a human named Anthony Greendown and finds a bounty placed on her head as a result.
- The Audition
- Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) (2008)
- The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) (2010)
- The Electric Lady (Suites IV and V) (2013)
- Dirty Computer (2018)
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The tropes that apply to Janelle Monáe:
- Agony of the Feet: "57821" describes Anthony looking for Cindi until "his feet became bloody and tired".
- All Part of the Show: The only people that suspect something is wrong when Cindi has a seizure in the "Many Moons" video are Lady Maestra and 6ix Savage.
- Alter Ego Acting: Janelle Monáe's character, Cindi Mayweather.
- Ambiguously Human: Cindi Mayweather. She is very human-like, despite being an android.
- Arc Number: 57821, which is both Cindi's serial number and Janelle's patient number at the Palace of the Dogs Asylum as well as the title of a song on The ArchAndroid.
- Ax Crazy: Her song "Come Alive" plays this trope straight.
- Badass Cape: Appears frequently in her live performances.
- Bounty Hunter: The Metropolis government sends several after Cindi.
- Black and Nerdy / One of Us: Hell yeah.
- Black Cloak: The Punk Prophets and the guards at the Palace of the Dogs Asylum.
- But Now I Must Go: Near the end of "BaBopByeYa".
I see beyond tomorrow
This life of strife and sorrow
My freedom calls and I must go!
- The Cameo: The "Many Moons" video features appearances by Big Boi as Sir Luscious Leftfoot and Deep Cotton as the Punk Prophets; both of these artists are featured on songs in The ArchAndroid.
- Chainsaw Good
The droid control marshals are full of fun rules today--no phasers, only chainsaws and electro-daggers!
- The Chosen One: Cindi is the ArchAndroid, whatever that means.
- Concept Album: From the very beginning, it seems. The Audition generally doesn't adhere to the concept, but "Metropolis", for example, has ties to the Cindi Mayweather plot.
- Cool Shades: Here you go.
- Costume Porn: "Many Moons" features an auction of several specialized Alpha Platinum 3000s, and as such, Monáe in several different outfits.
- Cover Song: A cover of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" appears on The Chase.
- Dancing Is Serious Business: "Dance Or Die".
- Deader Than Dead: Whichever bounty hunter catches Cindi must turn her cybersoul in to the Star Commission, presumably so that this trope can be carried out.
- Development Hell: Apparently, a video for "Violet Stars Happy Hunting!" was shot but remains unreleased due to unstated technical problems. This appears to be a simple recording by someone on the set.
- Do Androids Dream?: The drama track that opens The Chase, "March of the Wolfmasters", indicates that androids have "cybersouls". The Trope Namer is also referenced in "Make the Bus".
- Epiphanic Prison: Shown in the song "Many Moons".
You're free but in your mind, your freedom's in a bind...
- Fading Into the Next Song: Several examples.
- Fantastic Arousal: "Wondaland" has the lines "I'm so inspired / You touched my wires".
- Fantastic Racism: Against perfectly sapient androids. "Metropolis" implies that they are also confined to a "wired side" of town, which other songs imply is underground.
- Faux Affably Evil: The announcer in "March of the Wolfmasters" is gushingly cheerful about the bounty on Cindi's head and the fact that it's only redeemable if you kill her with "chainsaws and electro-daggers" and rip out her soul to boot.
- Incredibly Long Note: The end of "Come Alive"
- Intercourse with You: "Wondaland", which makes reference to touching of wires and leaving underpants somewhere.
- Interspecies Romance/Robosexual/What Measure Is a Humanoid?: Central to the plot is the romance between Cindi Mayweather, an android, and Anthony Greendown, a human.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Very little of the plot has been explicitly shown.
- Limited Wardrobe: The reason why she dresses up in a tuxedo all of the time? She considers it her uniform, and it represents the working people.
- New Sound Album: The Chase (and later work) is very different from her first album The Audition, which had a more conventional R&B/pop sound.
- Nice Hat: She wears a white hat from time to time. The "Many Moons" video features her in equestrian helmets and top hats. And let's not get started on the one she wears in the ArchAndroid cover.
- Non-Appearing Title: Several examples. Notably, "Many Moons" plays it straight as a standalone song, but the page quote provides a Title Drop in the music video.
- Performance Video: "Many Moons", although it still fits into the Metropolis concept.
- Protest Song: "Mr. President", which is mainly about putting education over warfare.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: "Say You'll Go" has a few bars of Debussy's "Claire de Lune" on it.
- Repurposed Pop Song: "Tightrope".
- Robot Girl/Robot or Spaceman Alter Ego: Cindi Mayweather.
- Science Fantasy: The setting is an ultra-futuristic city full of Ridiculously-Human Robots, but magic is apparently present.
- Electric sheep are mentioned in "Faster", and the story's full title, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, is mentioned in "Make the Bus".
- "Metropolis" mentions searching for paradise found.
- The music video for "Tightrope" features two cloaked figures with flat mirrors as masks. These same figures appeared in Maya Deren's classic 1940 avant garde film "Meshes of the Afternoon."
- Spell My Name with an "S": Is it Cindi or Cindy? Official sources lean heavily toward the former.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Cindi and Anthony; in Metropolis, an android who falls in love with a human faces the death penalty, whether they act on their feelings or not. It's implied that Anthony is being hunted down as well. This trope is lampshaded in "March of the Wolfmasters", where Cindi is introduced as "a new star-crossed winner in our Heartbreak Sweepstakes."
- Stripperiffic: Averted, which is uncommon for R&B singers. She has yet to even show cleavage.
T-t-t-talkin' bout, "Why don't she change her clothes?" Well, they ain't seem to mind the last THREE times I posed in Vogue!!
- Super Prototype: Cindi is the prototype for her line and appears to have powers that later models don't.
- Tear Jerker: Invoked; Monáe tears up in the "Cold War" video.
- Voice of the Legion: The voice of the announcer in "March of the Wolfmasters" is occasionally overlaid with a deep, robotic voice, lending her this effect. It's also present in the "I love you, and I won't take no for an answer" line in "Violet Stars Happy Hunting!".
- White Mask of Doom: The Punk Prophets. Deep Cotton wear plague doctor masks while the rest of the prophets wear lantern-jawed masks.
- Wretched Hive: Metropolis seems to be one, based on all the crimelords present at the robot auction shown in the "Many Moons" video.
- X Meets Y:
- Yandere: Cindi, if a line in "Violet Stars Happy Hunting!" that goes "I love you, and I won't take no for an answer" is to be taken seriously.
- ↑ A self-published release from back before Monáe founded the Wondaland Arts Society. It has not been re-released under her label.