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Janelle Monáe

A youthful future-funk diva prepares for escape velocity with a bold new album.

By Steve Smith

Turning all heads as she passes, Janelle Monáe forcefully strides through the Museum of Modern Art with a small retinue—a manager, a publicist, a journalist—trailing in her wake. Monáe, a flamboyant young singer from Kansas City, Kansas, by way of Atlanta, would soon be releasing The ArchAndroid, her funky, futuristic major-label debut; we’re here to chat about it in a space that suits her playful, dramatic flair. The Tim Burton exhibition at MoMA, it was decided, would do nicely—only it’s a sunny Friday afternoon, and the gallery is crammed. Seeking an alternative, Monáe leads the charge up escalators and down stairs, casting only a brief glance toward a steely, seated Marina Abramovic before alighting on a tucked-away bench.


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