Janelle Monáe’s ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ Made Even Better With Slick Music Video

Last week, we heard a funky new song from futuristic R&B adventuer Janelle Monáe and Special Guest Partner-In-Crime, Erykah Badu. The synth-tastic "Q.U.E.E.N." is the first new track off of Monáe’s upcoming sophomore album, The Electric Lady, the long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s The ArchAndroid. Now, we have an ultra-cool video for the track, directed by Alan Ferguson and complete with an appearance from Badu ("Badoula Oblongata") and a sci-fi, futuristic theme that is frequently present in the singer’s musical content and general aesthetic. In a future world with lots of sharp angles and bold black and white patterns (Monáe’s frequent color palette of choice), the singers are figures in something of a wax museum dedicated to great revolutionaries.

But then the record (on a skull record player with a gold fang as the needle, as if it couldn’t be any more cool, but somehow without trying too hard) drops, and the figures come to life and sing songs of what it means to be a "Q.U.E.E.N." Also there are matching backup dancers, totally enviable outfits, and Erykah Badu steals the scene, complete with matching elegantly-coiffed poodle. There are already lots of GIFs of this moment, just waiting for your blogging. Watch the video and get into Friday mode, and be ready to totally own your weekend. 





Janelle Monáe and Erykah Badu: All Hail The ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’

Back in 2010, Janelle Monáe lit us all on fire with her futuristic first released studio album, The ArchAndroid. And she hasn’t exactly gone away—in fact, she was on one of the biggest singles of last year, as a featured vocalist on F.U.N.’s "We Are Young," which got her a Grammy nomination. But after revisiting The ArchAndroid from time to time over the past few years and hearing her alongside Nate Ruess and company, fans are understandably itching to hear some new music from Monáe. 

Well, thankfully, she’s back, and with Erykah Badu, no less! Yesterday, Monáe premiered "Q.U.E.E.N.," a funky number with grooves reminiscent of Prince (maybe some royal connection there?), sci-fi synths and lyrics about twerking in the mirror, eating wings and embracing your weirdness. Oh, and did we mention that Erykah Badu is on it? Erykah Badu is on it. "Q.U.E.E.N." is the first new track from Monáe’s upcoming album, The Electric Lady, and hopefully there will be more to come soon.  

Governor’s Ball Festival Returns to Randall’s Island With Kanye, Kendrick, More

It’s freezing and gross in a considerable chunk of the country, which means it’s time to start thinking about summer, and with it, the crowded, drunken, heavily-Instagrammed bacchanalia that is the summer music festival. Your first major festival lineup announcement of 2013 happened today, in this case the third-annual Governors Ball Music Festival, which returns to its home on Randall’s Island June 7th, 8th and 9th. The biggest names on the flyer are Kanye West and Kings of Leon, as well as one blacked-out name to be revealed later (let the speculation begin!). The bulk of the bill features people whose albums you really liked last year, or whose albums you didn’t really like but maybe read about a lot on music blogs, including Japandroids, Kendrick Lamar, Grizzly Bear, the xx, Nas, Dirty Projectors, Best Coast, The Lumineers, Gary Clark Jr., Beach House, Azealia Banks and dozens of other year-end list luminaries. Like musical confetti made from cut-up Pazz & Jop ballots. 

Other notable names on the lineup include one of BlackBook’s Stars of 2013, HAIM, Swedish party starters Icona Pop, Erykah Badu, Feist, festival regular Pretty Lights, Wild Nothing, Fucked Up and Dillon Francis. Those less inclined to care about the music can find food courtesy of a few familiar trucks, including Asia Dog, Mexicue and Pie for the People. There is also ping-pong, croquet and bocce and something called a "Silent Disco," which seems to be on the bill at a lot of festivals and the impetus for some half-baked thinkpiece somewhere about the way we live and share music now. Tickets for the big festival thing go on sale this Friday at noon. 

Several top-rated tracks of 2012, including Kendrick Lamar’s "Backseat Freestyle" and Japandroids’ "The House That Heaven Built," soundtrack the Austin Peters-helmed lineup video, which features Jonathan Sollis and Fabrizio Goldstein strolling around New York in tuxes and dark sunglasses, on a neverending quest to make it rain. Watch.

Flying Lotus and Erykah Badu Entrance With ‘See Thru To U’

Experimental producer Flying Lotus has quite the impressive cast of collaborators on his upcoming fourth full-length album, Until the Quiet Comes, including Thundercat, Laura Darlington, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, Erykah Badu and Niki Randa. This weekend, he released "See Thru to U," his anticipated collaboration with Badu, a heavily percussive and dreamlike piece. Badu sounds fantastic and a bit haunting amid FlyLo’s loping bass and layers of percussion. Have a listen below.  

Reasons to Go to Rock The Bells 2011

The lineup for this year’s Rock the Bells concert series is here, and it’s manna for hip hop fans! How often do you get to see Nas, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu (and many more!) on the same day? But there’s a big downside, and it’s this: Governor’s Island. New York’s most contested mound of goose poop is a hellhole in the summer heat and annoying to get to. Plus, four stages means a lot of the good acts will be going on at the same time. Click through for the reasons you should still go:

The New York date for Rock the Bells is September 3rd. Pre-sale tickets go on sale on June 3rd, and the rest on June 4th. Another option, for those of you willing to travel to Philly, is the Roots Picnic on June 4th. Headlining are The Roots, Nas, and Wiz Khalifa. It seems a bit smaller and more manageable (and I’d daresay cheaper). Here’s the Governor’s Island lineup:

• Nas • Lauryn Hill • Erykah Badu (see her! I beseech everyone to see her live at least once. When I saw her in Chicago, she had a foot-tall blond mohawk and did an extended acid-jazz version of “Appletree.”) • Mos Def and Talib Kweli • Raekwon and Ghostface Killah • Souls of Mischief • Mac Miller • Curren$y • Blu • Cypress Hill • Childish Gambino • Big K.R.I.T. • Immortal Technique • Freddie Gibbs • Murs

Links: Kids Grow Up Quick with ‘Scarface’; ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ Is Just Not Plausible

● If this clip of children reenacting Scarface doesn’t convince you to have kids, nothing will. Think of all the funny things you can make them say! [Vulture] ● Lindsay Lohan has more coke on her shoes, literally, than you can afford in two months. [Styleite] ● Jared Leto’s 30 Seconds to Mars and Paramore’s Hayley Williams both covered Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” One sounds like Meatloaf and the other is heavenly, but you decide which is which. [TMZ]

● A real life physicist runs down the factual errors — or as he calls them, the “egregious number of inviolable paradoxes” — in Hot Tub Time Machine. [io9] ● ChatRoulette missed connections go viral when a cute white girl tries to find the cute white guy who got away. Maybe help her out, because we’ve all been there? Or something. [Urlesque] ● Erykah Badu’s new video is both a partial reenactment of the JFK assassination and a chance to see her strip, but for art. [YouTube]

In the Studio With Erykah Badu

It’s an hour before midnight and Erykah Badu is walking down several flights of stairs into her studio, where she has one night left to finish her sixth album, New Amerykah, Part 2: Return of the Ankh. Just off the hustle of Times Square, the studio is a mellow oasis, small and dimly lit, with ropes of purple Christmas lights glowing overhead. An unfinished version of the album plays in the background. Its atmospheric, improvisational sensibility heightens the feeling that within this space, time moves on Badu’s terms. It’s a joke among the people closest to her. Her publicist, effusive with apologies after our second scheduled photo shoot was canceled by Badu, says by way of explanation, “She works on Erykah time.”

Place has also played a vital role in the 39-year-old performer’s work. She currently has multiple homes—in New York, in Dallas and on the road—but says, “I’ve managed to create this situation of peace wherever I go.” The four-time Grammy winner (she’s been nominated a total of 19 times) has had her New York apartment, in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene, for 13 years. “It was a party of one for the longest time. It’s a very small apartment, with only a kitchen and a bedroom. It was my lab.” It’s also the place to which she keeps returning. “Brooklyn is where I go when I’m recording,” she says. “I used to call it my home, but I don’t anymore. There’s a part of me that’s always 21 years old there. It’s a hideaway. It’s a shrine. It’s a sanctuary. It’s a dressing room.”

But Brooklyn has evolved over the past decade, largely due to gentrification. “When I first moved in, it was all head wraps and dreadlocks,” she says. “The change was gradual, so gradual, in fact, that it’s like asking me how it felt to watch my children grow.” She is of two minds about the development of her neighborhood, which now comes complete with coffee shops, independent bookstores, pricey brownstones and strollers. “I hate that black people don’t know how valuable their land is,” she says. “One group is always pushed out for another. One tribe always takes over another tribe’s habitat. But it’s not so much about occupation here as it is convenience. The area is now more of an artistic environment, a meeting of the minds.”

For eight months of the year, Badu lives on the road. But even then, the mother of three—Outkast’s André Benjamin is the father of her son Seven—feels at home, because she brings her mother, brother and sister along for the ride. “My mother’s the queen. I’m still the daughter. I’m just a franchise,” she says, laughing. “We play cards. We talk shit. We build. We critique. We create. We argue. We grow.”

Painting by Tim Okamura.

Links: ‘Gossip Girl’ Dine ‘n Dash, Get Lady Gaga’s Hair

● Tommy Lee’s helicopter was pulled over mid-air by cops for suspected flying under the influence. [TMZ] ● Missed the Super Bowl like plenty of perfectly normal people? Here’s a roundup of the best and worst commercials from the game, if you couldn’t stand to watch what was actually a pretty good game for once. [Celebuzz] ● Evidently the Gossip Girl cast walked out on a $500 tab at Brother Jimmy’s after having an impromptu party during a Kings of Leon show. [PageSix]

● Scorsese. Day-Lewis. Del Toro. They’re all set to work on Silence, a film about 17th-century Jesuit priests. That’s a lot of salt and pepper action for one film. [Variety] ● Erykah Badu welcomed a new child yesterday — a daughter. I know this because she Twittered during the whole process. [BlackCelebKids] ● Want the kind of hair Lady Gaga has been sporting (you know that Pebbles a la the Flintstone ‘do)? Here’s a how-to video. [Youtube]
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