Electric Sheep and Freaks

I’ve just been listening to Janelle Monáe—her new album, The Electric Lady, just released on iTunes. Her voice is amazing, but it is her creative, thoughtful use of a variety of genres while commenting on self-hood and social norms that hooks me. One of my favorites right now is Q.U.E.E.N. It is in this song that she more overtly seems to be exploring personhood, what it means (and what is at stake) to know and be who one is authentically—made-by-God, imago Dei. . . . She asks, Am I a freak? and draws out how easily we conform to the roles expected of us; but we misunderstand—don’t really know who we are at the core. And to pose the question to society, society turns it back on the marginalized (“call[s] us needy”). I’m sure I’m reading way more into this—but, it is brilliant, nonetheless. And, the last portion of the song is a rap, the crux, for Monáe: Will you judge or succumb to what is expected of you? or will you have the courage to be? I have excerpts of the lyrics below, including the final rap.

“Hey sister am I good enough for your heaven?

Say will your God accept me in my black and white?

Will he approve the way I’m made?

Or should I reprogram, deprogram and get down?

. . .

Even if it makes other uncomfortable

I will love who I am

Even if it makes others uncomfortable

I will love who I am

. . .

Are we a lost generation of our people?

Add us to equations but they’ll never make us equal

She who writes the movie owns the script and the sequel

So why ain’t the stealing of my rights made illegal?

They keep us underground working hard for the greedy

But when it’s time pay they turn around and call us needy

My crown too heavy like the Queen Nefertiti

Gimme back my pyramid, I’m trying to free Kansas City

Mixing masterminds like your name Bernie Grundman

Well I’mma keep leading like a young Harriet Tubman

You can take my wings but I’m still goin’ fly

And even when you edit me the booty don’t lie

Yeah keep singing, I’mma keep writing songs

I’m tired of Marvin asking me ‘What’s Going On?’

March to the streets ‘cuz I’m willing and I’m able

Categorize me, I defy every label

And while your’re selling dope, we’re gonna keep selling hope

We rising up now, you gotta deal you gotta cope

Will you be electric sheep? Electric ladies, will you sleep

Or will you preach?”

Don’t know about you, but, I’mma preach!

“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein, dyslexic

2 thoughts on “Electric Sheep and Freaks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s