Janelle Monáe—sometimes known by her android alter ego, Cindi Mayweather— has earned the big stage, though she doesn't deserve all the queries into her sexuality or the premature big question: Is she mere spectacle, or perhaps the most talented young star of our generation? Her probe into UFO soul, 2010's The ArchAndroid
, answered yes to the latter. Her newest,The Electric Lady
, features fellow otherworldly icons Prince and Erykah Badu and scoots through an even vaster stylistic galaxy with rock 'n' roll, swing and black-girl power. She may be too E.T.
for terrestrial radio, but her likability is undeniable live.
A caveat: Last week, Monáe canceled three shows following her doctor's instructions to give her voice some rest. "Even the most expertly designed android breaks down sometimes and must recharge," she wrote. Here's hoping that by the time Monáe and her Wondaland Arts Society affiliates arrive, their sound will be at its full, atmosphere-escaping potential.