Janelle Monáe just might be the oddest R&B singer on the planet. The Kansas City-born, Atlanta-bred songstress is still buzzing off her 2007 debut EP, in which she assumes the role of lovelorn android Cindi Mayweather. The disc runs the gamut from infectious power-pop in the vein of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” to mournful, orchestral numbers, all set to an Orwellian backdrop refracted through a freakish 1980s sensibility. (Imagine that Kanye West’s goofy Back to the Future 2 wardrobe sprung to life and made an album of its own. Except it chose honesty over irony. And it turned out to be an incredibly cute, mowhawked girl. In a robot costume.) The Metropolis EP even earned a co-signature and a major rerelease from Diddy, making it the first and only high-concept space-funk opera on his Bad Boy imprint.
JANELLE MONAE PERFORMS WITH THE 54 AT 8 P.M. AT THE BLACK CAT, 1811 14TH ST. NW. $15. (202) 667-4490.