The Electric Lady, the title of Janelle Monáe’s second album, at once captures the X factor of the Atlanta singer: her charismatic presence, her inimitable style, her wild talent. Although her debut, 2010’s The ArchAndroid, was a critical slam dunk (and won her a Grammy nod), that success wasn’t matched in sales. It moved only 186,000 copies. Monáe’s big break, commercially, came a year later with a guest spot on fun.’s runaway hit We Are Young. Since then, she’s won the admiration of fellow overachievers such as Prince, Erykah Badu, Miguel — all of whom appear on The Electric Lady.
Impressed and envious, Vulture spoke with Monáe about her amazing coterie of collaborators and hanging out at Skywalker Ranch with her fan George Lucas.
How did you manage to get Prince on your album?
I’m kind of pinching myself: It’s real. Prince has been a fan of mine since I released Metropolis [her 2007 EP], and he invited me to go out on tour with him. We’ve been really good friends for a while, and he’s been like a mentor to me. It’s really organic for us to work together. I can’t get into details about what that experience was like — I’d want to talk about that down the road. But I will say he was very interesting, full of ideas, and I’m just grateful that he trusted me to guide him in the song [Givin Em What They Love]. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had collaborating with an artist.
Did you see he recently tweeted at you?
Yeah, he tweeted about The Electric Lady album artwork. I don’t even think he’s even on Twitter anymore. But yeah, it was very hilarious having him on there.