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By 2008, she was signed to Sean Combs’ Bad Boy Records.

Two albums and eight years later, Monae’s big-screen debut feels less like a detour and more like a 360.

“In those situations, people won’t take the time to understand you.” She found solace in fantasy flicks ( are favorites) and learned to channel her angst in school theater productions, eventually earning a scholarship to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

New York proved stifling, so Monae moved to Atlanta where she was discovered at an open-mic night by Outkast’s Big Boi.


“To me, feeling like the other as a woman or as a member of the LGBTQ community is parallel to what it will be like for androids in the future.” , Monae has been on a mission to reconstruct the modern female pop star.Critics deemed her the love child of Prince and Octavia Butler, with soulful tunes that combined swagger and sci-fi; the singer was soon performing at the White House, appearing in a Super Bowl spot for Pepsi and attending couture shows with Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld.“Janelle doesn’t like anyone trying to normalize her,” says Jidenna, a signee to Wondaland Records, the Atlanta-based Epic imprint she launched in 2015.“She’s always in my ear like, ‘Don’t try to fit in anywhere.

People respect authenticity more than anything.’ ”Growing up poor in Kansas City, Kan., fitting in was next to impossible for Monae.

“I was in rooms where I was the only minority,” she recalls.


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