The occasion for our sit-down is her partnership with Belvedere Vodka’s Beautiful Future” campaign celebrating integrity, diversity, and self-expression, an apt message on the week of New York City’s annual Pride March.
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Organization, strategy, and a tight group of trusted collaborators keep Janelle Monáe’s artistic world spinning. I just broke down in tears at the history building. @JanelleMonae is pansexual— never in my life have I had a celebrity I loved on an artistic as well as a personal level come out as pan, the same as me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
It’s an album full of potent, funky anthems that are gloriously sex-positive and beautifully queer and rooted in blackness and rife with political and societal critique as Monáe delivers her point of view as a sexually liberated black woman who has constantly seen the threats being made to her rights and those who look and love like her.
Janelle was rumored to have been involved in a relationship with American rapper MC Lyte. She became part of a controversy after a video surfaced of Kim Burrell making anti-gay statements at her church, which went viral and soundtrack of Hidden Figures, in which she has been part of includes the song I See Victory from gospel singer Burrell. This controversy was later addressed by Janelle at the Golden Globe Awards.
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.
Monáe is never more relaxed during our time together than when she’s in Kansas City. Her Midwestern drawl comes back as she screams and sings while running into the arms of her cousins, aunts and uncles, many of whom she gets to see only during the holidays or tour stops nearby. At one point, she curls up into her mom’s lap while they look at a homemade poster full of sepia-toned childhood pics. She was a delightful baby,” Auntie Fats recalls.
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.
In Atlanta, after our conversation at Wondaland, Monáe seemed to get a second wind. The band upstairs had resumed practicing for her forthcoming tour, and she wanted to check in on their progress. She invited me to join her. If the basement was where ideas began to gestate, then the room she led me to was where they were polished before leaving the house. It had a ballet barre and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. She disappeared for a few minutes before returning in black leggings and the same cropped moto jacket from the presentation in Los Angeles.
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.
For her latest project, singer, actress and activist Janelle Monáe is encouraging millennials to vote. She calls it a tribute to her grandmother, who didn’t always have that right growing up in the segregated South. Monáe is on a mission to make sure everyone with a voice has the ability to use it.
Solange Knowles, Prince, Miguel, Esperanza Spalding, and Erykah Badu all collaborated with Monáe on the album, on which she showcased the true breadth of R&B. “Musically I wanted to create an album that was rooted in R&B but make sure I was capturing the diversity in R&B music,” she continued. That she did, and she performed it in front of thousands of fans on a North American tour. Her epic ascent to stardom was full steam ahead.
It’s not another solar system that you’d need to visit to see where Monáe was born in 1985, or even another planet in our own. Rather, Monáe is a native of the Quindaro community of Kansas City, a settlement founded by Native Americans and abolitionists that became a haven for African Americans, according to Rolling Stone magazine. He mother was a janitor, and she and Monáe’s father split up before the future artist turned a year old. Monáe’s mother later remarried.
Monáe greeted everyone in her band — the drummer, keyboard player, guitarist and two backup singers — hugging them and taking a few moments to inquire about their health, their families, their side projects, before taking her position in front of them. She patted her pockets, searching for a missing item, which she spied on a speaker: mirrored sunglasses. She put them on and nodded to the band. They launched into Make Me Feel” and then I Got the Juice,” and she ran through them a few times, losing herself a little more in the music during each performance.
Details about Monáe’s character are scarce, but Vulture confirms she is set to star alongside Leslie Odom Jr., Clarke Peters, and Jennifer Nettles in a Harriet Tubman biopic. Cynthia Erivo rounds out the cast as the titular abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor. Filming for the movie begins in October with an expected 2019 release date.
MONAE: Yeah, that I’ve gone that far. And what you hear on the project, too, is candid conversations that I would have with loved ones and friends. You know, if I’m upset and I feel like women’s rights are being trampled on, then I’m not going to sugarcoat that. You know, as an artist, my responsibility is to the truth and to my truth, you know, even if folks may not agree with it.
Janelle Monáe is a successful American singer, actress, songwriter, and model who has six Grammy Award nominations to her name and has appeared in notable movies including Hidden Figures and Moonlight. The genre of music that she has been involved in include Psychedelic soul, funk, soul and pop among others.
After high school, she moved to New York to study musical theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. She couldn’t afford to live on campus, so she shared a room at 140th and Amsterdam with an older cousin, who worked nights at the Post Office. They each took a shift sleeping while the other was at work or school and saw each other on the weekends. Her congregation supplied some funds, and Monáe did some work as a maid to make ends meet. She spent the rest of her time in libraries, reading plays and practicing monologues. Her best friend was studying in Atlanta and regaled her with tales of wild parties and the camaraderie of black Greek life. It was just more exciting than what I was doing,” she said. She liked the rigor and discipline of her school but worried she would lose her edge: I didn’t want to sound, or look or feel like anybody else.” She made the decision to leave New York after a year and a half.
But it isn’t these accolades that make Monáe proud. In fact, it was her choice to do something scary, to take a risk and tell the truth, and thankfully that resonated. “I’m just happy that my personal story has also been personal stories for so many other people. There’s so many young people who grew up in the South or Baptist families, who were told that they won’t be accepted by Christ. They can listen to this album and feel hugged. They can feel loved. They can feel seen. They can feel heard. That’s the most beautiful thing.” Monáe’s fans were not just able to find parallels with her journey, but able to find validation in being “dirty.” With this album she extended an open hand.
Stevie Wonder would tell me all the time to ‘lead with love.’ It’s difficult. I don’t want people to think it’s easy and that Janelle Monáe is above having moments where I sometimes don’t believe the things that I say. But I said them, and I believe that they come from a great place. I’m speaking from my loving mind. Sometimes, I’m happy I’ve recorded it, because I need to be inside that, and I don’t always feel like that.
Throughout her career, Monáe has received eight Grammy Award nominations. 17 She won a MTV Video Music Award and the ASCAP Vanguard Award in 2010. She was also honored with the Billboard Women in Music Rising Star Award in 2015 and the Trailblazer of the Year Award in 2018. 18 In 2012, she became a CoverGirl spokeswoman. Boston City Council named October 16, 2013 “Janelle Monáe Day” in the city of Boston , Massachusetts , in recognition of her artistry and social leadership.
Monáe started thinking along the lines of Dirty Computer even before she released The ArchAndroid. The concept came out of pivotal therapy sessions that helped her identify the ways she internalized the parts of herself she was afraid of. Accepting her dirt” has helped many others do the same.
03 In 2016 Monáe launched Fem the Future, an initiative to create more opportunities to advance the awareness and inclusion of women and those who identify as women through music, arts, mentorship and education.
In just the past few weeks, Monáe was named trailblazer of the year at Billboard’s Women in Music awards, her film Welcome to Marwen” opened in theaters across the country, and she scored two Grammy nominations: Dirty Computer” will vie for the night’s biggest honor, album of the year, and the visual for Pynk,” a glorious ode to black sapphics that broke the Internet (and heated up speculation about a romance with actress Tessa Thompson), is up for video of the year.
She was named trailblazer of the year at Billboard’s Women in Music awards, woman of the year by Glamour. She came out as pansexual in a sprawling Rolling Stone cover story. And her album Dirty Computer , released this spring with a companion film — sorry, “emotion picture” — is Grammy-nominated for album of the year and can be found on practically every major list of the best albums of 2018, including ours.
It didn’t take long after Monáe moved to the ATL for her to find her groove. She moved into a boardinghouse, established an art collective, enrolled at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College, and began working on her own music, according to The New York Times Magazine Monáe also recorded a CD that she distributed, performed on campuses, and uploaded her music to her Myspace page.
In 2016, Monae earned acclaim as an actress in Oscar favorites “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight” but her true passion is music, which she first realized when she moved from Kansas to New York City to study musical theater.
Outside Wondaland, eight cars lined the long driveway, and staccato bursts floated from an open window upstairs. It sounded like band practice, a score being workshopped. I recognized the music from Dirty Computer.” A Wondaland staff member named Kelly greeted me at the door and gave me a quick tour. From the outside, the house looked like any other Southern McMansion, but the entryway immediately suggested something different. Thick, leafy palm trees crowded the foyer so densely that I had to wrestle them to get through. A handwritten note asked guests to slip off their shoes. An archway was decorated with a dozen or so clocks, in different shapes and colors, their hands frozen at various times.
Despite her father’s struggles with addiction while Monáe was growing up, there was no shortage of family around her to envelop her within a loving environment. During her childhood, Monáe lived in a house owned by her maternal grandmother, who also housed the singer’s aunts, uncles, and cousins in other houses she owned — all in a row on the same street, according to Rolling Stone Not far away, her paternal great-grandmother lived in a pastel-colored home, where Monáe spent a lot of time as a child. Given that her parents were not together, Monáe was able to connect with her father when he was in and out of prison while at that house. Additionally, one of her maternal aunts lives just a few minutes away.
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.
But there’s one property — a prominent part of the Disney canon, though some may not realize it — that Disney has yet to fully account for: the 1946 animated and live-action musical Song of the South ,” which is based on Uncle Remus,” a collection of African American folklore. The movie has garnered controversy dating back to its release for its racist depiction of African Americans and glossy portrayal of race relations in the Reconstruction-era Deep South.
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.
Monáe later earned a Best Music Video Grammy nomination for “PYNK,” as well as an Album of the Year nod for Dirty Computer. Although she didn’t win in either category, she delivered one of the standout performances of the night at the 2019 awards ceremony.
Janelle’s first EP ‘The Audition’ was released in 2003 which was not highly successful. She was then part of another album ‘Idlewild’ and was featured on the songs Call the Law” and In Your Dreams”. She later signed to Bad Boy Records in 2006 and her first solo work, titled Metropolis was released in 2007.
Thrill to an hour with progressive R&B maverick Janelle Monáe, as the singer and actress performs songs from her acclaimed LP Dirty Computer. American singer Janelle Monáe has created some of the most memorable music videos over the past nine years.
Monae’s new album, Dirty Computer, acknowledges her sexuality with a sense of liberation and self-belief, while addressing the struggles facing marginalised communities in Trump’s America. Janelle Monae goes miniature in the innovative new film, Welcome to Marwen.