Monáe’s truth is bold and unapologetic, as is her stage show. 2018 has been a good year for Janelle Monae. Through it all, science fiction wends like a pulsing heartbeat. Dirty Computer’s flaws are not crippling ones.
janelle monáe instagram – Here’s Lizzo’s Response To Those ‘Truth Hurts’ Plagiarism Claims
Monáe’s Dirty Computer is an ambitious, politically outspoken, all-encompassing pop-R&B statement album. There are some people that I have a really difficult time loving, especially when they are so divisive at the root. For me … you still have to be accountable. You can love somebody, and respect them and empathize with them, but part of loving a person is holding them accountable.
Dirty Computer ditches the excess, comprised exclusively of songs as crisp and excitable as Tightrope,” Q.U.E.E.N.,” and Dance Apocalyptic.” While she still dabbles in occasional sci-fi concepts (on the wriggly Take a Byte,” she strings together a series of computer and sex puns), the musical distancing devices — strings and harps announcing each new song, instrumental tracks indicating dramatic transitions — are gone. The album moves quickly and sharply, keyed to a riveting electronic bounce.
Along with the album, Monáe put out an unusually elaborate visual companion, a 45-minute sci-fi musical epic called Dirty Computer: An Emotion Picture. In it, Monáe plays a dirty computer” who undergoes deprogramming designed to erase her past, which included a romantic relationship with a woman played by Creed’s Tessa Thompson. It’s become a hit on YouTube, racking up 1.9 million plays, but it also serves as a high-budget calling card for her visual storytelling skills as she and the Wondaland team move into TV and film production.
Monáe understands the language of pop deification. Not like the grotesque worship of rock gods” or celebrities, but figures like David Bowie, Prince, Kate Bush — pop artists whose music and intent are matched with presence. They take the stage and screen with persona and vision, galvanizing their craft into powerful audiovisual statements that don’t just empower themselves; they empower all. Their humanity is intrinsically bound to their larger-than-life persona — becoming not exclusionary, but inclusionary. This power can be yours too. Make art. Be freaks. Be free. We’ve all got the spark of a deity within us, but sometimes it takes a music maker to snap their fingers and light the fire.
She made her debut in 2007 with Metropolis: Suite 1 (The Chase), a genre-jumping EP that caught Prince’s ear (he became a mentor) and got her a Grammy nomination (for the song Many Moons”). Her fusion of rock, funk, hip-hop and R&B proved timely, even ahead of the curve. Her first LP, The ArchAndroid, followed in 2010, building up to 2013’s The Electric Lady, an elaborate opus that gave a taste of what she could do without Mayweather’s tale as her album’s spine.
I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you,” Monae told Rolling Stone.
Monáe had already been a committed activist. In 2015, with members of Wondaland, she created Hell You Talmbout,” which demands we say the names of black Americans who have been victims of racial violence and police brutality. Before #MeToo and Time’s Up, Monáe created an organization, Fem the Future, which stemmed from her frustrations about opportunities for women in the music industry. She was called on to perform at the 2017 Women’s March and to speak about Time’s Up while introducing Kesha at the Grammys. We come in peace, but we mean business,” she told the cheering crowd.
Monáe has spent months taking Dirty Computer on tour, bringing to life the nearly hourlong video, or emotion picture,” that threads together the album’s songs and stars Monáe and her friend Tessa Thompson as radicals in an oppressive, futuristic society who are detained and cleaned.” The concerts reflect the thrillingly free world Monáe’s and Thompson’s characters inhabit before running afoul of the authorities.
It’s a brilliant strategy. In having multiples selves, Monáe can expand upon the worldbuilding of her narrative, told in multiple viewpoints but all originating from herself. She is not locked into a single narrative, but is able to explore all facets of her self-identity, from her queerness to her blackness to her religious faith. This makes Monáe not only an excellent musician, but also an amazing storyteller, one who is telling a science fiction story in real time.
For years, Monáe’s funky escapades as Mayweather took us on such a wild ride that it didn’t matter that she was keeping listeners at arm’s length. Even though she was crafting her own utopia, Monáe never shied away from channeling her real feelings through her android persona.
On the latter, a paean to the female body, she donned the oversize ruffled labia leggings” she wore in the song’s video as her dancers split the difference between Georgia ‘Keeffe and a Robert Palmer video. As the song’s video played behind her, the crowd popped whenever Tessa Thompson, Monáe’s rumored girlfriend, was on-screen. Later, the crowd grew even louder, as a handful of #blessed fans got to show off their dance moves onstage. One fan was a young deaf woman, accompanied by an interpreter, who received plenty of hand-waving (the applause of deaf culture) from the crowd, another reminder that Monáe’s show is for everyone.
Janelle Monáe joined NPR’s Ailsa Chang from the Atlanta studios of her entertainment company, Wondaland Arts Society (whose film division recently entered into a production agreement with Universal), to talk about her process, her plans and why Dirty Computer could only have been written now. Hear the radio version at the audio link, and read on for highlights — including some moments that didn’t make the broadcast.
In 2011, Monáe was featured as a guest vocalist on fun.’s single “We Are Young”, which achieved major commercial success, topping the charts of over ten countries and garnering Monáe a wider audience. Her second studio album, The Electric Lady, was released in 2013 and debuted at number five on the Billboard 200, serving as the fourth and fifth installments of her seven-part Metropolis concept series.
Universal Pictures today announced that the studio has entered into a first-look production agreement with Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland Pictures, the film division of her multimedia company Wondaland. In 2016, Janelle Monae did a transition to Hollywood appearing in Moonlight (2016) and Hidden Figures (2016). In 2018, she released her third album called Dirty Computer.
The City Parks Foundation held its gala at SummerStage on Thursday night in Central Park, honoring Paradigm head of global music Marty Diamond and ING Americas, with CEO Gerald Walker. Diamond’s longtime clients Janelle Monáe, Sara Bareilles and David Gray performed at the event to honor their agent and friend.
With three critically-acclaimed studio albums under her belt, Janelle Monáe is an unstoppable music force. Ahead of her Summer Series gig at Trinity College in July, here are just five of her best music videos which show how she has become the global icon that she is today.
And yet she remained an enigma — albeit a fabulously stylish one wrapped in a signature black and white uniform (which she calls a tribute to her working-class upbringing) — never breaking from the Mayweather character on stage or in public. The line where Mayweather ended and Monáe began was a blurry one, which allowed Monáe to make the music she wanted while keeping a safe distance from the public.
Simultaneously, Chuck Lightning, seemingly the more extroverted half of two-man funk act Deep Cotton, who make their own music as well as work with Monáe, grabs a bowl of quinoa from the kitchen as Monáe doles out decisions on which version of the Pynk” video will be released (they settle on the one without the spoken-word love poem that appears within the song in the film).
We look at ourselves not as musicians or artists specifically restricted to the music industry,” Monáe says. We’ve always loved film, we’ve always loved TV, and we’ve always loved telling stories. This is an extension of that storytelling and an opportunity to collaborate.
She initially graduated from F.L. Schlagle High School. Janelle later moved to New York City to study drama and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where she became part of a performing arts camp called Freedom Theatre. She founded the Wondaland Arts Society after moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 2001.
After she spent years grinding away in the Atlanta underground, Monáe capitalized on support from OutKast ‘s Big Boi and developed into one of the most dynamic artists of her time, fusing soul, funk, hip-hop, and new wave – among other genres – with a spirited approach that seemed to treat entertainment and art as indivisible. She and her fellow Wondaland associates likewise stressed singles as much as albums. “Tightrope” and “Django Jane” provided bold jolts, while The ArchAndroid (2010), The Electric Lady (2013), and Dirty Computer (2018), all complex full-lengths, elaborated upon themes of oppression, identity, and liberation as they related to race and sexuality.
MONAE: For me, it was about my love and hate relationship with this country. I love being American. I love being, you know, born here and having roots here. But there are some things – there are some really evil things that have happened and continue to happen. And it speaks to being afraid of forgiving.
MONAE: Well, “Dirty Computer” was supposed to be the album that came out before my first album, “The ArchAndroid.” And I felt like I needed to live more in order to make this album. Then it started to really make itself. It really started pouring out – the lyrics just like rain.
The album is broken up into three parts. The first few songs represent the reckoning — reckoning with what it means to be called a n for the first time by a white person, or being called a b for the first time by a man. And then you have the middle section, where ” Pynk ” falls in, and songs like ” Make Me Feel ,” that are celebratory of sexuality and of womanness. The latter part of the album deals with the reclamation: A song like ” Americans ” is about reclaiming what it means to be an American. My ancestors helped build the White House, helped build this country. And it’s not time to run away, it’s time to stand your ground and confront what I call the great divide — those who seek to divide us and highlight all our differences and make us fearful of each other.
Despite the frenzy around Lizzo’s song Truth Hurts,” nothing is getting the beloved songstress down. With her song at the top of the charts, she’s pushing back against some plagiarism claims, and making others’ dreams come true. This is Lizzo ‘s most recent response.
In addition, Monáe also created a grassroots nonprofit called Fem the Future , with the goal of creating employment opportunities for women who are in the arts. “I wanted to create a platform to shine light on women and their talent, whether it’s behind the scenes or in front of the camera,” she explained in an interview with Ebony magazine. She noted, “A beautiful future is a future where women are included in all different aspects.” That is truly a noble undertaking, and one that puts women first.
With as close to the bone as this record cuts, in regards to our own world’s timeline and Monáe’s own journey, it’s easy to suspect that Dirty Computer is more about Janelle Monáe than her characters Jane 57821 or Cindi Mayweather, but that’s a take she’s quick to refute. The characters cast a long shadow, and it’s all connected, but the message is bigger than them and bigger than Monáe.
Monáe has spent a lifetime perfecting the art of being a pop star who isn’t a sexual object. Discretion is a survival strategy, a coping mechanism especially useful for black women living in the public eye. But she has now made an explicit album about sexual expression and identity that is somehow still shrouded in ambiguity. In 2018, empowerment isn’t a color — it’s a call to action. It’s Cardi B talking about how much she loves her vagina, not holding a neon sign explaining that she has one. On Dirty Computer,” it still feels as if Monáe is deciding which version of herself to show the world — or that this is the tentative beginning of a larger reveal.
All of these moments occurring in succession boosted Lizzo’s popularity immensely. Everyone was excited about this new” artist, and her music. Truth Hurts” became especially popular, lighting up the charts while her new album continued to do well alongside it.
That’s a lot to put on a pop star. But Monáe and the Wondaland Arts Society have always been looking to the future – and not doing it with an apocalyptic if but a triumphant when. And it just so happens that when begins now.
Monáe then stayed in the headlines, particularly for her private life. In an interview with Net-a-Porter , Westworld actress Tessa Thompson came out as sexually fluid and also subtly addressed rumors that she and the singer were dating, saying they “love each other deeply.” Amid her dating hoopla and all of her queer, female-empowering anthems, Monáe followed up by announcing a 25-plus city tour, which wrapped in August. And we’d be remiss to forget her powerful speech in support of Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement at the 2018 Grammys.
While other previous singles like Boys” received attention (after being featured in the comedy Booksmart ), Truth Hurts” was still the focal point of Lizzo’s musical catalog. It climbed up the charts and then stayed there. At present, it is tied as the longest-running female rap song at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.