Janelle Monae, 'The Electric Lady' (9/10)
"I started thinking about a new 21st-century breed of women," Janelle Monáe says of the process that led to her second album, The Electric Lady. "How does she make love? What are her feelings regarding politics, sexuality, religion, oppression? These questions led me to a portal into the future." The past was pretty important, too – she cites Bo Diddley, Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone as key inspirations. The disc also features a festival-worthy guest list, with spots from buddies Erykah Badu, Solange and Monáe's "musical icon and mentor," Prince. "Prince doesn't just appear on anybody's album," Monáe says. "To have him be a part of The Electric Lady was incredible – I'm still in disbelief."