Music / Janelle MonŠe

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.

With a few exceptions, 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.

She has also had a successful acting career, including acclaimed roles in Moonlight and Hidden Figures.


  • The Audition (2003) note 
  • Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) (2008)
  • The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) (2010)
  • The Electric Lady (Suites IV & V) (2013)
  • Dirty Computer (2018)


  • "Many Moons" (2008)
  • "Tightrope" (2010)
  • "Cold War" (2010)
  • "We Are Young" (featured with fun.) (2012)
  • "Q.U.E.E.N." (2013)
  • "Dance Apocalyptic" (2013)
  • "PrimeTime" (featuring Miguel) (2013)
  • "Electric Lady" (2014)
  • "Yoga" (featuring Jidenna) (2015)
  • "Venus Fly" (featured with Grimes) (2017)
  • "Make Me Feel" (2018)
  • "Django Jane" (2018)


The tropes that apply to Janelle Monáe:

  • Advertised Extra: She is credited as a feature on fun.'s "We Are Young", but she sings only 4 lines that are almost obscured by the background vocals. She is more noticeably featured in the video, but she only appears for about 20 seconds.
  • Afrofuturism: Uses futuristic and android imagery to discuss contemporary issues faced by the African-American community.
  • 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.
  • All There in the Manual: The full story of Dance Apocalyptic
  • Alter-Ego Acting: Janelle Monáe's character, Cindi Mayweather, not to mention her many sisters and various other characters she plays in videos.
  • Ambiguously Human: Cindi Mayweather. She is very human-like, despite being an android.
  • Arc Number: 57821, which is Cindi's serial number. It also appears as Monáe patient number at the Palace of the Dogs Asylum in the "Tightrope" video, and is used as the title of a song on The ArchAndroid.
  • Ascended Fangirl: The Electric Lady sees her performing alongside some of her influences, including Erykah Badu and Prince.
  • Ax-Crazy: Her song "Come Alive" plays this trope straight.
  • Badass Cape: Appears frequently in her live performances.
  • Bifauxnen: In her Archandroid days, at least. She adopts a more conventionally feminine look for her singles after "Q.U.E.E.N.".
  • Bi the Way:
    • While Cindi's two primary partners are men, she also has a lesbian encounter in "Givin'Em What They Love" and expresses attraction to a woman named Mary, possibly Blueberry Mary from "Mushrooms and Roses".
    • Monae herself has been repeatedly questioned about her sexuality, and has never given a firm answer, instead saying that both women and men are "wonderful". She also said "the lesbian community has tried to claim me, but I only date androids, because they donít cheat on you", so make of that what you will.
      "I keep my personal life very much to myself. I want everybody to focus on my music. I also donít want to let anybody down. I want women to still be attracted to me. Go get my album! I want men to still be attracted to me so I have to be political in this. So I canít really tell yíall!"
  • Bounty Hunter: The Metropolis government sends several after Cindi.
  • 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.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Janelle claims to be a time traveller, and other such whimsical antics.
  • 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 Version: A cover of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" appears on The Chase.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: "Dance Apocalyptic" encourages the listener to "dance until the end", "laugh at the zombie in the front yard", etc.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the original script for Dance Apocalyptic, one newspaper reads: "ANDROIDS WANT YOUR JOB !"
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Dance Apocalyptic" features lyrics about "dancing to the end" and the video is interrupted by a news broadcast reporting on various major U.S. cities being destroyed by disasters.
  • Epiphanic Prison: Shown in the song "Many Moons".
    You're free but in your mind, your freedom's in a bind...
  • Erotic Eating: Done briefly with a lollipop in "Make Me Feel".
  • 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.
  • First Love: Joey Vice, who met Cindi Mayweather while she was working as a cyber-server.
  • Free-Love Future: Whether or not this is true for all of Metropolis is unclear, but Cindi is implied to practice a polyamorous lifestyle. Especially within "Mushrooms and Roses".
  • Girliness Upgrade: Janelle is pushing the limits of her black and white aesthetic. She often wears more traditionally feminine clothing, always in black and white, and changed her once nude lipstick color to a bright red. Compare her Archandroid era style to her Electric Lady style.
  • Incredibly Long Note: The end of "Come Alive". Notable not only for its length (20 seconds) but how high the note is.
  • Intercourse with You: "Wondaland", which makes reference to touching of wires and leaving underpants somewhere.
  • Interspecies Romance: 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.
  • The Lancer: Kellindo Parker' many guitar solos on The Archandroid and The Electric Lady firmly establish him as her foil.
  • 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. Since The Electric Lady and her Girliness Upgrade, this is mostly averted, though she brings the suit back at times, like the video for "Django Jane".
  • Loudness War: Refreshingly averted. Just about every song is produced with meticulous detail, containing multiple layers of instrumentation and vocal touches that require many listens to catch all the nuances. As such, the dynamics have never gone below a DR of 7, and average between 9 and 10.
  • The Movie Buff: Janelle has an extensive knowledge of cinema, as shown in "Tightrope" which references Meshes of the Afternoon, and "Q.U.E.E.N", which references Qui êtes vous, Polly Magoo ?.
  • Neat Freak: Her perfectionism extends beyond the realms of music and performance, as anyone can see from her appearance, and she dislikes mess in general.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: The particular emphasis varies from song to song, but for the most part the music is a melting pot of soul, funk, R and B, progressive rock, rap, psychedelia, dance pop, and Broadway-influenced classical music.
  • New Sound Album: Inverted in that 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.
  • The Oner: "Cold War" is a single long take of Janelle's face as she lip-syncs to the song.
  • Odd Couple: With Joey Vice. He's a punk, and she has the look and poise of a classic movie star.
  • Opening Narration: Some of her concert performances open with one, highly reminiscent of the narration of Princess Irulan.
  • Performance Video:
    • "Many Moons", although it still fits into the Metropolis concept.
    • "Dance Apocalyptic" features Monáe performing as the Electric Lady on an American Bandstand pastiche.
  • Prequel: The Electric Lady is the prequel to the Metropolis saga.
  • 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 "Clair de Lune" on it.
  • Rags to Riches: This is noteworthy as Janelle Monae makes a point to use this part of her story to inspire both her fans and her aesthetic: her mother was a janitor, her father was a garbage truck driver who struggled with drug addiction, and to go to Conservatory she spent time working with her mother. While producing The Audition, she was working at Office Depot, and incidentally, got fired for messaging fans on store computers.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: "Tightrope" was used in a number of commercials for the Chevrolet Cruze.
  • Robo Family: The prerelease for The Electric Lady reveals that Cindi has five sisters, all of them Alpha Platinum 3000s. Exactly what "sister" means when the AP3000 is a mass production model has yet to be revealed.
  • Robot Girl: Cindi Mayweather.
  • Rule of Cool: Several aspects of her aesthetic. For example, the "Q.U.E.E.N." video features a turntable whose needle is a golden canine tooth on a white skull.
  • Science Fantasy: The setting is an ultra-futuristic city full of Ridiculously Human Robots, but magic is apparently present.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: Appeared on Sesame Street itself with a motivational song called "The Power Of Yet."
  • Second Love: Anthony Greendown turned out to be this for Cindi Mayweather.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sliding Scale Of Idealism VS Cynicism: Very, very much so on the idealistic end, though done not without acknowledging the world's many problems.
  • 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."
  • The Stoic: She certainly comes across as so in interviews, but during performances she is far more upbeat, and has at least twice been moved to tears on camera.
  • Stripperiffic: Averted, which is uncommon for R&B singers.
    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.
  • Time Police: The conceit for the "Q.U.E.E.N." video is that Monáe has been arrested by the Time Council and placed in a museum full of time-frozen musical revolutionaries, but is freed by some young freedom fighters.
  • Trilogy Creep: The covers of The Chase and The ArchAndroid imply that the Metropolis saga was planned to be four suites long. However, The Electric Lady is comprised of suites IV and V, and its album cover implies that the story will now reach at least seven suites.
  • Visual Pun: In "Django Jane", after she says the line "Let the vagina have a monologue", she appears rapping the next line reflected in a mirror held over a woman's crotch.
  • 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.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: "Q.U.E.E.N." ends with a rap verse from Monáe.
  • The Wonka: Certainly an eccentric whimsical character, and yet with a stern authoritative demeanor that gives her an appearance of magic power. While producing The Audition, she ran amok on AUC, performing for students and rallying them around certain messages, for example that college was a waste of money and they should look for what truly made them passionate.
  • Wretched Hive: Metropolis seems to be one, based on all the crimelords present at the robot auction shown in the "Many Moons" video.
  • 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.
  • Your Cheating Heart: In "It's Code", Joey Vice has done this. Cindi apparently blames herself for pushing him into the other woman's arms.