Sunday, February 13, 2011

Janelle Monae & Nicki Minaj


Sent to you by moya via Google Reader:


One is a cyborg from the future; a synthetic spiritual priestess who ruptured and reconfigured the matrix of musical boundaries; inorganically orchestrating an era of afro-futuristic artistry; using an android operating system uninhibited by essentialist blackness or outdated sexuality software. 

The other; is a "dissociative identity disorder" diva, a  tempetress and a trickster; who with a wave or her magic wand wound the hip hop industry around her finger, cursed and defiled her competitors; and cast a spell that single handedly conjured the re-consitution  of the feminine voice in hip hop.

What do these two women have in common?

Upon first listen; most would say nothing. Nicki and Janelle  could be interpreted to be like two comets streaking in the nite; passing by each other oblivious and perhaps even more so; un-interested; in the others gravitational pull. 

Yet upon deeper introspection there are striking similarities in both the artistry and energy of these two artists; undertones and influences that, upon reveal; connect the two under the cosmic constellation they both share: Sagittarius. 

Yes, both Nicki and Janelle are sags, born a year apart. But does that hold any credence at all for two women who appear to be on opposite ends of the musical spectrum? 

To figure this out, we have to first look at the Sagittarian mythos. In astrology Sags are the last fire sign in the zodiac. They represent freedom, expansion and the "high mind". They are symbolized by the half horse/ half human centaur who aims their arrow upwards towards the farthest reaches of the horizon. This arrow aiming at the heavens symbolizes the Sagitarian impulse to expand. Everything they touch, whether it is philosophy or art, Sagittarians take to the next level.  The arrow shot in the sky can be seen as a sort of psychic net; cast out to capture all that has been before while reaching upwards to new heights and levels of being. 

We can see the latter clearly with both Janelle and Nicki.

For example; Janelle's masterpiece album ArchAndroid  infuses and synthesizes a range of musical styles that precede her initiation into artistry. From blues, to rock, to electronic, Janelle's microchip has the program for them all; she fails to narrow herself, casting  a wide net refusing to be boxed or cropped into any simple category. At any moment on Arch Android we can hear a different voice of inspiration, Lauryn Hill on "Neon Valley Street", Bette Middler on "Ba-Bop Bye-Ya", The Beatles  on "Mushrooms & Roses" Simon & Garfunkel on "57821" and more. Yet make no mistake; all of it is distinctively Janelle. She has re-wired the circuitry of each model before her; and the upgrade is none other than she herself. 

Nicki does this as a Sag also, but differently. For example, In the BET documentary "My Mic Sounds Nice: Women In Hip Hop"  MC Lady of Rage  accurately noted that: "{Nicki} is nice. She reminds me of Missy, Eve and Lil Kim combined."  What Lady of Rage is noting is  Nicki's Sagittarian drive; she has taken the artistry of artists who predate her   ( Missy's playfulness, Eve's cockiness and Kim's assertive sexuality) merged it, broadened it; and transmuted that energy to another level of ferocity and intensity; making it markedly her own. Like a true sag, she has expanded the archetype by the inclusion of her own performative tactics. 

Both have also created alternative identities with which to express themselves. Janelle is Cindi Mayweather, Nicki is Roman; they channel and distinguish the energies they posses by creating different characters. 

Other similarities abound, perhaps most notably their high performance presence; the fact that both of their fathers struggled with the same drug addiction, and that both have made themselves "superhuman" in different respects, becoming "the high mind" as they both individually interpret it.  Both have used their respective talents differently, yet the core of the energy remains the same.

One marked difference about each of them is the level of  fame that they have garnered under the same sun sign. Nicki has achieved pop culture fame; while falling short of critical support; Janelle has critical love from the industry; yet has not achieved pop culture fame to the same degree. 

Some of this is because Janelle, being a black woman who is not naked and exposing breasts; is beyond the ideological imagination of the current cultural climate. In metaphysics they say; "You can only see that with which you can conceptualize" and in this case it makes perfect sense.  Fully clothed and free of the essentialist boundaries of blackness; Janelle is largely invisible to the mainstream.

Yet don't get it twisted, Nicki "playing the industry" does not make her nobody's fool. She knows very well what she is doing; and like all female MC's is catching hell for capitalizing off  of the sexism of pop culture. You see, our culture gets angry at women for capitalizing off of their own degradation; but men can do it all day and it's perfectly acceptable. Many expect Nicki and all female rappers to attempt to single-handedly change gender dynamics in the hip hop industry ( putting the work on the oppressed, instead of the oppressor) while not even critiquing the fact that every major male rap artist has capitalized in millions off of the same dynamics. Nicki, Kim, and all others before her will never close the psychic and economic gap of the money that male rappers have made and continue to make off of women's degradation.  But you know as always, exploitation is only ok when the men do it. 

In conclusion, remember to pay attention starlings! There are connections everywhere and in places you would least expect. Nicki And Janelle may look different, but that cosmic core has definitely got some similarities.  Send me your sugegstions for celebrities you want me to astrologically analyze! I would love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time,

with love and cosmic lite



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