Janelle Monáe shows she's the most now pop star alive in dazzling Orlando concert

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Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Janelle Monae, House of Blues, July 28

Janelle Monáe is doing it. This decade has proven her the best, most iconic exemplar of Atlanta’s game-changing avant-garde since OutKast. Though her high-concept R&B retro-futurism immediately distinguished her, where she currently sits in both quality and impact is on another level.
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Now operating beyond her roots, Monáe reigns from her own realm, one that slinks between R&B, funk, pop, rap, rock on out to prog-soul – all without seam. Maybe only Prince has pulled this off (not coincidentally, this concert had many nods to him both implied and overt). The thing that electrifies it all, though, is her singular style.
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Indeed, her production is grand now, with costumes, dynamic set, splashy video, dope dancers and a distinctly artistic edge. But all those are just beams of the sun that is Janelle Monáe, who possesses a rare kind of presence.
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
And about that rarity, all contained within this one soul is natural-born talent, exceptional vision and supernova flair. Such consolidation is already a star-maker, but Monáe’s even more special than that. Even on her inevitable rise to the A-list, she’s never lost her experimental urge.
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Already a pop-cultural unicorn on many levels, what makes her symbolically immense is that she’s a legitimately alternative icon of undeniably universal appeal. While even the establishment is signing up for her cult, Monáe’s up there championing messages and people that have been marginalized, instantly redefining “normal” as if by the stroke of some wand. And it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen on a big stage. Here among the mob scene of her fans completely losing their shit, she made everything feel like a sensation, a spectacle and a safe space all at once. When you’ve got a certified pop star who’s taken the clear left lane to the top instead of the middle of the road, that’s a cosmic triumph.
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
No one adds up quite like Janelle Monáe. Every ounce the antithesis of the old guard, she’s not just an artist who’s got the goods to make a mark on the zeitgeist, she’s one who can move the times forward. The gospel of Monáe is genius, dazzling, liberated and empowered. She may be the greatest sum of talent, art and It factor in popular music today. You can keep your Beyoncé. Janelle Monáe is what we need right now.
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
Janelle Monáe at House of Blues - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Janelle Monáe at House of Blues
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Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com