Janelle Monae may be the most intriguing artist on Big Boi's Purple Ribbon imprint. She's a pixie-sized beauty with a Technicolor fashion sense that rivals Andre 3000, and an ambitious musical vision that encompasses New Wave soul and forward-thinking rock. Last year, she accelerated her buzz through appearances on OutKast's Idlewild ("Call the Law") and Big Boi presents ... Got Purp? Vol. II ("Lettin' Go").
Monae's formal debut is Metropolis, a concept album split into four EP-length suites. Its title is inspired by the 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis. "It's going to have really cool artwork and pix," says Monae, adding that Metropolis will "deal with the future." She recorded the album with help from the Wondaland Productions team (Chuck Lightning and Nate "Control Z" Wonder). "We're all young Renaissance inventors," says Monae.
The first installment of Metropolis comes out in May. Unlike other Purple Ribbon efforts, this one won't be distributed through Virgin, but independently. However, Monae isn't worried. "I think people are ready for change, and they're going to search for it wherever they can," she says. "I've got a lot of tricks up my sleeve for digital releases." You can learn more about Janelle Monae at www.myspace.com/janellemonae.
PURPLE RIBBON NEWS: Label publicist Tamiko Hope says that it recently signed Young Savvy, a rapper from nearby Savannah. Konkrete is working on his debut album with the Beat Bullies (the two producers behind "Kryptonite"). Sleepy Brown is developing an Adult Swim cartoon called "Berry and the Love Bears." "It is similar to the style of the '70s program 'Schoolhouse Rock,' where there is animation, hip music [Sleepy will contribute original songs] and catchy grammar," writes Hope in an e-mail.
Meanwhile, Killer Mike, whose criticism of talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey (via the diss track "That's Life") is garnering controversy, is no longer with the label.
COMING TO AMERICA: Fear not if you waffled at paying import prices for a copy of Khari Simmons & Julie Dexter's collaboration, Moon Bossa, which came out via British imprint Dome Records last summer. Brash Music picked it up for domestic release. CEO Mike McQuary adds the company may issue more recordings from the two soul artists. In the meantime, the label is putting out Moon Bossa on March 20. ... Fabo, who may be the most distinctive member of D4L (thanks to those tube socks), is working on a new album for spring release tentatively titled GIK Music (Give Instead of Kill). Guest appearances include Daron Jones from 112, Young Jeezy and Young Dro.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Congratulations to music venue the Earl. Playboy magazine named it one of America's Top 10 rock clubs and raved, "This East Atlanta mainstay is the kind of laid-back joint the guy from 'My Name Is Earl' might dig." ... Belated props also go to R.E.M. The Athens band made the 2007 class of inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
RANDOM NEWS: Performing rights organization SESAC, which represents artists such as Bob Dylan and ATL songwriter Bryan-Michael Cox, recently opened a local office that will focus on urban music. ... The Atlanta Hip-Hop Film Festival is calling for entries. For more information, visit www.atlhiphopfilmfest.com. The third annual event takes place April 24--26. ... Heavy-metal whale Mastodon has launched an online video game. Play it at www.warnerreprise.com/mastodongame.
CD RELEASES: Little Five Points hangout Star Bar celebrates 16 years in business Sat., Feb. 3. Unknown Hinson helps cut the cake. ... Hard-rock band Lazyeye issues its self-titled CD on Sat., Feb. 3, at Smith's Olde Bar. Slowearth opens.
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