The Broadway-Android: A Reaction

Dear Janelle,

This is not a fan letter and it’s not a review; it’s a reaction. When you’re new and different, they either hate you or they love you, but nothing’s ever that black and white.

So honestly:

First and foremost, you are INCREDIBLY talented and innovative. Gaga should be takin’ notes. You have combined elements from every form of music and produced an album too diverse for labels. You rock out like Mick Jagger on Come Alive and keep it funky like the Godfather of Soul on Tightrope all the while making brilliant social commentary. You’ve created a world all your own that makes us take a harsh look at the world we all live in. Unfortunately, I don’t think a studio album is the place for your work.

You are, unquestionably an artist. You see the world as only Janelle Monae could and translate what you see back to us in the same fashion. See the problem there? I feel transported elsewhere listening to The ArchAndroid but I haven’t the foggiest where I am. I could be anywhere from Wonderland to Oz and everywhere in between. This album sounds like the soundtrack to a BRILLIANT musical that I’m dying to see, but unfortunately doesn’t exist. There is a greater story here and as a studio album, The ArchAndroid only tells half of it. I want more, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. You have definitely captured my attention. This album intrigues me more than any I’ve heard in recent years. Still, it feels incomplete without the accompanying imagery. I want to be wholly immersed in Metropolis and know its inhabitants and their stories. So even after 18 diverse audio tracks, I’m left dissatisfied.

Innovation is the only constant on The ArchAndroid, another gift and curse. As I’ve already said, you master everything you attempt. However, there are times when the album lacks cohesion. Another quasi-issue that I think a full stage production would remedy. The actual story would serve to tie the songs together and a range of characters would make the constant changes in sound more palatable and sensible. Though I think I could guess that “sensible” has never been high on your list of things to be. However here’s a lesson I think most artists would do well to learn, you can express yourself all you want, but if your audience doesn’t receive it as you’ve intended, wasn’t it all in vain? Just a thought…

All in all, though, Janelle, I love where you’re going with this. I just want you to go further. I really believe you could have a Broadway show with this album or even a Vegas musical. Nonetheless, I’ll be waiting for The ArchAndroid tour. Do your thing Janelle.

Two fingers/One love,
Tyler Allen Hill
The Gent

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