Album Spotlight: Janelle Monae x Dirty Computer

Janelle Monae’s electric career continues to evolve into a prime example of the power of passion and freedom in art. Monae’s latest project Dirty Computer, released along with an emotion picture, is the artist’s 3rd studio album release. Exploring themes of liberation through sexuality, individuality and the power of femininity, Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer stands as a quirky yet soulful anthem for fans to feel empowered and free and never be invisible again. 

The leading singles Django Jane, Pynk and The Way You Make Me Feel have all been great examples of Janelle Monae celebrating the divine power of black femininity, the importance of individuality, and celebrating the beauty of freedom and the strength of love.

Dirty Computer is just where I am now. I’m being more vulnerable and even more honest. It deals with what it means to be erased.
— Janelle Monae x Refinery 29

The album debuted an emotion picture of the same name which depicts a sci-fi universe where "dirty computers" have their memories wiped clean.  The afro-futuristic short film played through the album, each track depicted as a vivid memory,  presented to be erased forever.  

WATCH DIRTY COMPUTER HERE

Dirty Computer is an album that I knew I needed to make before my first album, The ArchAndroid. Dirty Computer deals with what it means to be a part of a marginalized group and have your very existence erased. Dirty computers are seen as being full of bugs and viruses and anything to be cleaned out. Dirty computers see their bugs and their viruses—whether it’s their sexuality, their race, their gender—as attributes, as features. This is an album to celebrate us, to celebrate all the dirty computers around the world.
— Janelle Monae x The Root

Recently coming out as pansexual in a freeing interview with Rolling Stone, Monae has reached a pinnacle of truth which she brilliantly displays through her work.  Both Dirty Computer the album and the emotion picture takes viewers and listeners on a journey to self acceptance and ultimately delivers.  Throughout her career, clad in black and white tuxedos, reppin' for the androids, Monae's ability to develop a unique persona has matured into an icon of creative prowess. 

For me, a girl who did not always fit in but more than often stood out, Janelle Monae's progression to Dirty Computer gave me the juice to boldly exist as myself, with no apologies. An existence threatened to be erased by patriarchy, racism, self-hate and misogyny,  Black women, we are taught to be ourselves as long as we fit into molds crafted by societal standards.  

 

With Dirty Computer, Monae crafted a place all of her prior albums lead to, where differences are celebrated, love is love and the bugs and bytes that might make label you dirty are important. . Frequently, I question whether shyness and willingness to step into the shadows stems from insecurity and self doubt or, from me not being able the fear that friends, family and ultimately the world would judge. Watching Janelle Monae's progression pushes the latter side of that internal conflict to victory.

During her interview with Rolling Stone, Monae reveals, "It had to do with the fear of being judged," she says. "All I saw was that I was supposed to look a certain way coming into this industry, and I felt like I [didn't] look like a stereotypical black female artist." when speaking on her personas, often shielding the real Monae from the world. 

Now go on girl and use that sauce (that sauce)
If you don’t, then that’s your loss (your loss)
If you don’t, then that’s your loss
Turn it up, don’t turn it off
— Janelle Monae x I Got The Juice

Even phrases such as  "Carefree Black Girl" often regurgitated on Tumblr and Twitter,  were presented under the guise that life is to be lived under a label. I'd often subconsciously find myself subscribing to ideals, fashions and trends that society offered for black girls of my type.  Reading this interview and listening to this album gave me the realization that there is no proper way to embrace black womanhood as an adult figuring this out day by day, besides being myself.

Listening to Dirty Computers I feel seen as a straight black girl who wants to do what she wants and finally can. 

The strength to move beyond those taunting thoughts was stripped away by Dirty Computer and the tantalizing electronic funk, soulful sounds helped. My favorite tracks from the album are Django Jane, a gutsy rap song where Monae lets the "vagina have a monologue", I Got The Juice featuring Pharell, Take A Byte and Jane's Dream (THAT FLAWLESS TRANSITION THO). 

STREAM THE ALBUM HERE