On a hot December afternoon, the sky hazy from wildfires that raged just beyond the Los Angeles city limits, a handful of people gathered outside a nondescript Super 8 motel off Sunset Boulevard.
janelle monae pier 17 opening act – Janelle Monáe On Her Dirty, World
Unlike the Uncanny Pride Lands of this year’s “photorealistic” The Lion King remake, the live-action Lady And The Tramp features real animals, and objectively the best animals. The mission of Wondaland Pictures is to highlight stories that historically haven’t been front and center. “There are a lot of other people that I respect and admire, like Issa Rae and Lena Waithe and Jordan Peele, who are also pushing forward underrepresented voices,” Monáe shared in an interview with NPR “I just hope, and Wondaland hopes, to continue to push culture forward and and redefine how we are viewed. I want to make movies the dirty computers can feel proud of.” You know this is going to be good.
During this period, she met Mikael Moore, her longtime manager, and his classmates Chuck Lightning and Nate Wonder, who would eventually became close collaborators and form the backbone of all her creative efforts — writing songs with Monáe and directing her videos, which they continue to do. At an open-mic night, she met Antwan Patton, otherwise known as Big Boi, from OutKast. He invited her to contribute to Got Purp? Vol. II,” a 2005 compilation album that featured artists of Dirty South rap like Goodie Mob and Bubba Sparxxx but few other women. She also appeared on the soundtrack for Idlewild,” the 2006 musical film starring Patton and André Benjamin, or André 3000, Patton’s partner in OutKast.
I asked Monáe what she thought of the internet’s speculation about her romantic relationship with Thompson. Watching her as she decided on a response was like watching a mathematician working out Fermat’s Last Theorem. Gears were churning; calculations were being made. Finally, she laughed, raised her eyebrows and deflected: I hope people feel celebrated,” she said. I hope they feel love. I hope they feel seen.” It was late into the evening, and I was conscious of how long we’d been talking — at least two hours — and let it drop. But the issue lingered for me, especially the more times I watched her film.
This kind of targeted thinking also pervades Monáe’s artistic work, which she typically develops in conjunction with her longtime collaborators at the Wondaland Arts Society. Wondaland is a record label, a TV and film production company, a brand consultancy, a management firm, a hub for activism, and an actual place—the closest comparison being her late friend Prince’s Paisley Park, an inspiration for the enterprise. Its current physical manifestation is a grand suburban house outside Atlanta that has been converted into a supremely vibe-y complex of recording studios, offices, lounge spaces, and a communal kitchen.
Moonlight wasn’t the only film Monáe starred in during 2016 that received a ton of Oscar buzz. That same year, she starred alongside actresses Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures , a critically acclaimed and Academy Award-nominated film about three black female mathematicians who played vital roles in the NASA space program in the 1960s. Based on a true story, the film brought the lives of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson to the big screen for the first time — and showed just how important their work was in a time when they faced serious barriers because of their race and sex.
I didn’t set out to make a perfect album. That wasn’t my goal,” Monáe asserts. I have definitely gone in the studio and said, ‘Hey, I want to make the perfect song.’ This was not about that. It was about the imperfections. How can I create an album that can be imperfect? When I’m recording, I feel like I have to be perfect in front of people. I’m grateful to have a team that I don’t feel that way in front of, but I try to make sure that I’m giving myself space to just mess around and have fun and get lost. I like getting lost and discovering myself all over again.
The album, her third full-length project, came five years after she released The Electric Lady” and is another critical effort in the multiple Grammy nominee’s catalog. Monae sings about liberation, oppression, love and more in what is clearly her most honest, sensual album-to-date.
Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer is an ambitious, politically outspoken, all-encompassing pop-R&B statement album at a time when the existence of such a thing is not a given. Out since April, it’s her tightest album, and it abounds with smooth grooves, classic-sounding rhythm guitar hooks, jokes, puns, and manifestos, all designed to reveal the horror of the current political situation and to establish cheerful solidarity among fans and new listeners. That she should overreach in pursuit of this noble goal is hardly a blunder.
Born in Kansas City in 1985, singer Janelle Monáe began performing as a child and got her big break in 2005 when she was invited by Big Boi to perform on several OutKast tracks. She was later signed by producer Sean “Puffy” Combs to his Bad Boy Records label. In 2010 her debut full-length album, The ArchAndroid, rose to No. 17 on the Billboard U.S. album chart and received a Grammy nomination. She followed up with the sophomore album The Electric Lady (2013), which featured singers Prince and Erykah Badu. Monáe branched into film, appearing in Moonlight and Hidden Figures in 2016, before releasing her third album, Dirty Computer, in April 2018.
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.
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.
Where Monáe had her android alter ego Cindi Mayweather, Beyoncé had Sasha Fierce, and Nicki Minaj had Roman Zolanski. The three of them, who are supreme artists of their respective lanes, have all sort of shed these personas in more recent times.
One thing everyone can count on is that Monáe will continue to lift up black women and work to give them a louder voice. “We’re not all monolithic, us young black women, and we have our own ideas and concepts — we’re into science fiction, we’re into so many things, and we should be constructive and unapologetic about who we are,” she proclaimed in an interview with The Quietus “I don’t apologize to anybody about the kind of artist I am. Nor will I allow anybody to define who I am either.” Keep living your truth, Janelle.
Dirty Computer was supposed to be the album that came out before my first album, The ArchAndroid, but I felt like I needed to live more. It started to really make itself once I got my mind and my spirit fearless enough to dig deep and have conversations with myself.
Janelle Monae got her big break in 2005 in the form of being invited to perform on Outkast tracks by Big Boi. Sean Puffy” Combs soon signed her on to his Bad Boy Records and in 2010, Janelle Monae dropped her debut album which was received very favorably. The album which was named The ArchAndroid enraptured numerous people with its uniqueness and rose to number 17 on the Billboard U.S. album chart and also got nominated for a Grammy award. Janelle Monae’s next album was released in 2013 and was named The Electric Lady, which is now a nickname for the artist. In most Janelle Monae’s videos or appearances, she is dressed in a signature black-and-white tuxedo that is a homage to her parents who wore uniforms to do their menial jobs while she was growing up.
When speaking to Variety’s Marc Malkin at the Fem The Future Brunch with Instagram in West Hollywood, Monae dedicated this occasion to trans people, who rarely get recognition from award shows. That was eight years ago, when she sang these lyrics in her music video for Cold War” — the second single off her debut album, The ArchAndroid.
Kept awake by anxiety over how fans would respond to her work, Monáe wondered if dropping something as intensely personal as an album and short film illuminating the personal liberation of a queer black woman in today’s America was the right decision.
MONÁE: My upbringing, my community was all a huge inspiration for this album. And growing up in a small town and having big ideas and being what one would call a weirdo or just having a different approach to the way that I saw music, art and performance, I did at times feel out of place but I think that I wasn’t alone in that endeavor and I think that there were more people in Kansas City, Kansas, who could relate to what it is in that song.
Once Monáe settled in Atlanta, it quickly became apparent that it was the right move. “There are so many other likeminded individuals in Atlanta,” she continued. “I have a creative family down there — it consists of visual artists, performance artists, screenwriters, graphic novelists — you name it, they help make Atlanta special for me.” And it was there that she truly thrived.
In 2010, Monáe released her debut full-length album, The ArchAndroid, which peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard U.S. album chart and featured the singles “Cold War” and “Tightrope.” Based loosely on the 1927 German expressionist film Metropolis, which depicts a dystopian futuristic world, The ArchAndroid is a concept album about a robot named Cindi Mayweather in the year 2719. The album is at once a futurist sci-fi story and an allegory of African-American history.
It mimics the close-knit, constant accessibility of her childhood in Kansas City, with all its artists popping in and out of the space throughout each day to record new music, rehearse for shows and present the final product to the rest of the collective. At one point, the singer-rapper Jidenna shows up, having recently returned from a trip to Africa – everyone immediately starts teasing him about his newly buff physique.
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.
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.
Those who were following Monáe before her sensational arrival as an actress in the Oscar-winning coming of age tale Moonlight” and the historical space race drama Hidden Figures,” or before she declared herself The Electric Lady” on her fantastic 2013 breakout album, and most certainly before she donned hot pink pants resembling a vagina for a video in which she proudly claimed her identity as a queer woman (Let the rumors be true,” she sings at one point on the album), know her ambitions have always been boundless.
Janelle Monáe sings directly to the camera before cracking from character, bursting out into brief laughter followed by an abrupt welling of tears. The wide-eyed robotic stares and theatricalist performance was overcome as the conflict buried in her eyes bubbled and surfaced for an unadulterated three minutes in that portrait frame of the artist. Within those four lines, Janelle Monáe offered, unbeknownst to us and maybe her, a glimpse of who she was.
Monáe has been a critical favorite since the start of her career, when her pose as an android” and her elaborate science fiction lyrics signaled her commitment to self-conscious artistry. Her first two albums, The ArchAndroid (2010) and The Electric Lady (2013), bury a smattering of catchy pop-funk beats beneath fussy arrangements, orchestral interludes, florid filigrees, and social commentary obscured by flights of fancy. The lyrics concern a messianic android named Cindi Mayweather and her quest to save society from suffering, inequality, and such ills, although it’s easy to lose track of what symbolizes what. But she also possessed a Prince-like polymorphism, a playful joy in synthesizing genres — for example, on Tightrope” (her collaboration with Big Boi from The ArchAndroid), an itchy, jump-blues bassline and big-band horns skitter while the beat zigzags sinuously.
With Dirty Computer, I made a bigger declaration to myself—that I’m not putting out an album if I can’t be all of me. You’re gonna take the blackness, you’re gonna take the fact that I love science fiction. You’re gonna take the fact that I am a free-ass motherfucker. You’re gonna take that all in and because that is what you’re gonna get.
I’m never off the clock, and that is the reason why I’ve been made to be an android — to deal with this level of high demand and pressures.” She was looking forward to taking time to download” new ideas. Just take a look at the liner notes to Dirty Computer and it’s easy to see that for Monáe, inspiration is everywhere and nothing is what it seems. The new record, for instance, can be easily assumed to be wholly a byproduct of everything that’s come in the wake of the 2016 American Presidential Election, but in fact, it’s that reality, jarringly, caught up with her fiction. The premise dates back to before her first full-length album, 2010’s The ArchAndroid. She created the majority of the songs during Obama’s presidency.
Monáe was presenting a preview of Dirty Computer,” her first solo studio album in five years, and the anticipation was as palpable as the smoke filling the room. On an indiscernible cue, an apocalyptic electropop bop about partying in a dystopian world began to play: I hear the sirens calling, and the bombs start falling, but it feels so good.” The women broke into choreographed moves — toe stands, neck rolls, Michael Jackson spins, footwork that summoned the Charleston and James Brown. Many artists now share new music via encrypted downloads, but Monáe insisted on introducing her songs live. After watching her for a few minutes, it became clear why. The room was mesmerized, feeding off the energy emitted by Monáe and her backup dancers. An oversize man in loafers aggressively played air guitar. Others bounced their shoulders, nodded their heads, shuffled their feet in a two-step. Few stood still.
Janelle Monáe has come out as pansexual in an interview released on Thursday in Rolling Stone The singer and actress is known for being private about her personal life. Janelle Monae goes miniature in the innovative new film, Welcome to Marwen.
Monáe crash-landed in Atlanta, where Southern rap icon Big Boi — one half of the groundbreaking group OutKast — helped launch her career — after the turn of the millennium. Monáe emerged as an adventurous voice long before mainstream audiences caught on to the alternative, arty sound she was perfecting.
Monáe presents liberation and identity as a performance. But it’s performance as a means of communication. If ever it served well to make an artist into an paragon for whichever intersecting lanes of black identity, she is a good fit for it. A black, queer woman and creator— a new breed of pop star.
On top of having a successful music career and scoring starring roles in major films, Monáe is also an activist and advocate. She’s attended protests for the Black Lives Matter movement, released a protest anthem called ” Hell You Talmbout ” in support of the black men and women who were killed by police officers and vigilantes, and threw her support behind Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Obviously, Monáe is not afraid to speak her mind, especially on issues that matter dearly to her.
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.
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.
The Weekend” is part of Open Spaces KC, a two month effort to attract visitors to Kansas City and host art events. Janelle Monae attends the Hollywood premiere of Black Panther in January 2018. Janelle Monáe will headline The Weekend” performance in Swope Park on Oct. 13, according to an announcement today by Kansas City Mayor Sly James.
She always ducked questions about her sexuality (I only date androids” was a stock response) but embedded the real answers in her music. If you listen to my albums, it’s there,” she says. She cites Mushrooms & Roses” and Q.U.E.E.N.,” two songs that reference a character named Mary as an object of affection. In the 45-minute film accompanying Dirty Computer, Mary Apple” is the name given to female dirty computers” taken captive and stripped of their real names, one of whom is played by Tessa Thompson. (The actress has been rumored to be Monáe’s girlfriend, though Monáe won’t discuss her dating life.) The original title of Q.U.E.E.N.,” she notes, was Q.U.E.E.R.,” and you can still hear the word on the track’s background harmonies.
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.