Janelle Monáe’s debut studio album, The ArchAndroid, was released 10 years ago. Completing the second and third suites of Monáe’s conceptual Metropolis series, it follows the story of the android protagonist, Cindi Mayweather, in her trials of love and war.
With its unique blend of soul, pop, R&B, funk, and even cinematic scores, The ArchAndroid immerses listeners in Monáe’s futuristic world, powerfully relaying messages of love and hope. It received critical acclaim, gaining a nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album at the Grammy Awards, and was voted number one on the Guardian’s list of the top 40 albums of 2010.
In the sci-fi setting of The ArchAndroid, androids represent the marginalized communities of society – especially the LGBT+ community. In her music, Monáe highlights the oppression they face, portraying the feelings of those who are made to feel like outcasts. The main story of the album, Cindi Mayweather’s fictional forbidden romance with Sir Greendown (a human), represents those kinds of romances in our society that have been historically forbidden; as Monáe sings in ‘Mushrooms & Roses’, ‘we’re all virgins to the joys of loving without fear’.
The ArchAndroid is out now via BadBoy Records. Watch the video for ‘Tightrope’ here: