As she began the audacious task of following up on her acclaimed debut LP The ArchAndroid - an album that topped critic's lists in 2010 all over the world - she took along some trusty, brave companions: the original music producers of The ArchAndroid, Nate "Rocket" Wonder and Chuck Lightning of Wondaland Productions. And together they crafted a new strain of jamming music they called "ish." In the hip hop community, "ish" is a euphemism for the profane four-letter word for excrement, but as Monáe explains, they set out, like proverbial alchemists, to turn lesser substances into gold.
"This entire project was produced by Wonder & Lightning. We set out to make a soundtrack for the Obama era, something that spoke to the beautiful, majestic and revolutionary times that we're living in. The musical language we're speaking now is called ish. In the African-American community, we've been turning left-overs (like chitlins) and social depredation (like poverty) into delicacies and fine art for years. So we just set out to turn the rubbish all around us into something beautiful. Ish is the bowtie on the funk."
From the sound of The Electric Lady, ish is an urgent and dangerous form of dance music, rebel music that forces one to fight, jam, and fall in love. Like on The ArchAndroid, the sonic textures of the album are varied, and the past and present come together to explode and create a mind-blowing future for pop and soul music. For example, wondrous strings reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield and Bernard Herrmann orchestrations abound, Hendrixian guitar solos soar, Outkast-like raps float over punk rock riffs; defiant socially-conscious lyrics extol the virtues of soul-searching and fighting for change, while the funk simply melts your speakers: 808s boom and Prince-like synthesizers squiggle in your earhole, making it veritably impossible to just sit still.