I Have Sung the Future

Janelle Monáe broke out as an R&B; innovator. Now she's going full eclectic

John Van Der Schilden

"A TIME interview is right up my alley," Janelle Monáe says as she enters the room. "You know, I consider myself a time traveler."

She unhooks her pair of glossy black sunglasses and throws a look over the frames. Then she laughs, softly, her neon yellow fingernails fluttering against her signature black-and-white tuxedo.

She's not kidding. Monáe, 27, is well known for her 2010 smash "Tightrope," a funk workout with ukuleles and a dance-party video set in a supernatural insane asylum. She might be even better known for her hair, a Morrissey--via--Grace Jones antigravitational wonder, seen in its full glory in...

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