Janelle Monáe

Critics' pick
Photograph: Baptiste Monáe
Janelle Monáe
Free
Chalk up the meteoric ascent of Kansas City, KS, spitfire Janelle Monáe to the tenacity and focus of the supremely ambitious and genuinely driven. The Electric Lady, Janelle Monáe's 2013 sophomore LP, continued the loosely knit saga of Cindi Mayweather, an android cast in messianic terms. It was grandiose science fiction, sure; still, you couldn't miss tense undercurrents of isolation, discrimination and persecution. Following in the African-American escapist footsteps of Sun Ra and George Clinton, Monáe couched messages of deliverance in trappings so fantastical that they disarmed opposition—but what you noticed most, hearing her go toe-to-toe with Prince, Miguel, Erykah Badu and Solange on The Electric Lady, is how easy she made it all seem. Here, the mothership touches down in Prospect Park, where Monáe opens the 36th season of the Celebrate Brooklyn! series with a gratis gig.

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