Janelle Monáe is back with another brilliant concept album full of razor-sharp lyrics.
Dirty Computer, the multi-talented singer-cum-actor’s first full-length release since 2013’s Electric Lady, sees the musical enigma once again mix politics and an effortless sense of social justice with some of the funkiest tracks you’ll hear all year.
As well as being one of her most accessible bodies of work sonically, the album features some of the most personal wordplay of Janelle’s career, as she fully embraces the queerness that she recently opened up about when she revealed her pansexuality.
It was a difficult task, but we’ve managed to narrow down the whole of Dirty Computer to just seven of our favourite standout lyrics.
“I got away with murder, no scandal / Cue the violins and violas”
On Django Jane, Janelle celebrates the best of “black girl magic” including Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis and two of her favourite TV series from acclaimed screenwriter and producer Shonda Rhimes: How To Get Away With Murder and Scandal. Both feature strong black female leads, and both make for brilliant viewing.
“Pynk, like the inside of your… baby / Pynk like the tongue that goes down… maybe”
Pynk, an ode to the feminine form, might just be Janelle’s most sexual song so far, and it’s also a massive allusion to what she recently revealed to the world – that she’s attracted to both men and women.
“It’s like I’m powerful with a little bit of tender / An emotional, sexual bender”
Dirty Computer’s lead single, Make Me Feel, features even more hints to Janelle’s sexuality, as she refers to herself as a “sexual bender” on a Prince-inspired bop about physical desire. The psychedelic music video is an extension of this, as it features ‘bisexual lighting’ (that’s a lovely mix of purple and pink hues) while Janelle runs between male and female love interests.
“If you try to grab my pussy cat, this pussy grab you back”
One of the most overtly political comments on the album comes during Pharrell collaboration I Got The Juice, on which Janelle fires a warning to US President Donald Trump and anyone else who can’t keep their hands to themselves that her pussy does indeed grab back.
“‘Cause I’m crazy and I’m sexy and I’m cool / Little rough around the edges but I keep it smooth”
Aside from being a major ‘fuck you’ to her critics, I Like That continues to deliver the countless pop culture references with this slick shoutout to TLC’s iconic CrazySexyCool, which is the biggest-selling album by an American girl group ever.
“Even though you tell me you love me, I’m afraid that you just love my disguise / Taste my fears and light your candle to my raging fire of broken desire”
On an album full of political commentary and righteous anger, Don’t Judge Me is an unusually tender moment from Janelle. While previous releases have seen the singer embody the shell of her android alter-ego, she’s finally letting her human side show through as she sings about the vulnerability required to love.
“Until women can get equal pay for equal work, this is not my America / Until same gender loving people can be who they are, this is not my America / Until black people can come home from a police stop without being shot in the head, this is not my America”
Album closer Americans is a scathing take down on what it means to be a citizen of the United States, criticising gun violence, homophobia, misogyny and racism to the sound of funky, almost bubblegum production. This spoken-word bridge might not come from Janelle herself, but it sums up the message of the track – and the album – perfectly.
You can stream Janelle Monáe’s new album Dirty Computer below.