As dozens of Janelle Monae lookalikes greeted music fans entering New York’s Pier 84 last night, there was no questioning whose show you were at. From the signature coiffed hair to suspenders, the Monae-esque staffers—along with sponsors Target, CoverGirl and Sonos, the latter with whom Monae has a partnership—set the scene for Monae’s album release party in front of a giant ship along the Hudson River. The event celebrated The Electric Lady, Monae’s powerhouse second full-length, which features a handful of guests including Erykah Badu, Solange, Prince and Miguel.
The spectacle kicked off with former MTV VJ and current VH1 star La La Anthony introducing Diddy, Monae’s Bad Boy Records label head. “She’s the hardest working woman in show business,” he proclaimed before the diminutive Monae burst onstage for the new track “Dance Apocalyptic.” Monae’s brass-wielding backing band and black-and-white-clad dancers appropriately matched the song’s retro vibe, which segued into “Cold War,” a drum-rattling crowd-pleaser off Monae’s debut album The ArchAndroid. The singer invited rapper Big Boi to the stage for a performance of “Tightrope,” another standout from her debut, and later covered the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”
What Monae lacks in size, she more than makes up for in stage presence. Despite the short set, the energy never wavered as Monae closed the show with “Electric Lady,” before being joined by both Diddy and Big Boi and concluding with a fireworks display. Talk about going out with a bang. The Electric Lady drops today.