Janelle Monáe has finally released her long awaited third album “Dirty Computer” which is a beautiful masterpiece of an album that also showcases her influences that draw from the likes of Prince, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, and James Brown.
She kicks off the album with the title track “Dirty Computer” which a dreamy, mellow and soulful little number that finds her breaking down the concept of what it is to be a dirty computer: “Dirty computer, walk in line, if you look closer you’ll recognize I’m not that special, I’m broke inside. Crashing slowly, the bugs are in me..” Showcasing that we are all dirty computers with our own differences and imperfections and deserve to be loved and celebrated
She follows it up “Crazy, Classic, Life” which is such a beautiful upbeat number that will have you dancing around as she sings lyrics about living your truth and not giving a inch of a fuck about what others say, as long as you live a life that reflects your truth “We don’t need another ruler, all of my friends are kings. I’m not American’s nightmare, I’m the American dream, just let me live my life…” But the reality of things we as black people especially black women are forever limited by society and their value is always diminished but this song is screaming “Let me live my life”.
“Take a Byte” is a groovy drum-guitar driven number that has such a 80`s vibe to it and the lyrics are heavily inspired by Eve in the Garden of Eden and Ethiopian Queen of Sheba, “Take a byte, help yourself. It’s alright I won’t tell, it feels so good when you nibble on it”. I love this track, the vocal arrangement is stunning and her delivery is stellar, everything comes together so beautiful.
“Screwed” sees her teaming up with Zoë Kravitz as they deliver a beautiful track that has Prince`s name all over it from the production to the lyrics, as they speak about the power that women have and not letting men nor the government dictate how they act: “Hundred men telling me cover up my areolas, while they blocking equal pay, sippin’ on they Coca Colas. Fake news, fake moves, fake food—what’s real? Still in The Matrix eatin’ on the blue pills. The devil met with Russia and they just made a deal, we was marching through the street, they were blocking every bill. I’m tired of hoteps tryna tell me how to feel, for real….”
“Django Jane” sees her spitting some fire about women empowerment and her journey with herself and as an artist, rapping over a hip-hop production with some beautiful strings within the mix. A very impressive 60 bars without a single chorus, “We gave you life, we gave you birth. We gave you God, we gave you Earth, we fem the future, don’t make it worse. You want the world? Well, what’s it worth? emoticons, decepticons, and autobots. Who twist the plot? Who shot the sheriff, then fled to Paris, in the darkest hour, spoke truth to power? made a fandroid outta yo’ girlfriend”…
“PYNK” is uplifting funky number that sees her teaming up with Grimes, who provided some great backing vocals throughout the song. Together they sang about the celebration of creation, self love, sexuality. and pussy power “Pynk, like the inside of your… baby. Pynk behind all of the doors… crazy. Pynk, like the tongue that goes down… maybe. Pynk, like the paradise found”
“Make Me Feel” is a soulful and funky, Motown-esque number that will have you thinking of Jackson Five, Robert Palmer and Prince who`s elements and influences are displayed so beautifully throughout the song, it finds her tracking a subject about her sexuality and actually fucking celebrating it “It’s like I’m powerful with a little bit of tender, an emotional, sexual bender. Mess me up, yeah, but no one does it better, there’s nothin’ better, that’s just the way you make me feel”
“I Got the Juice” is a island inspired number that with some smooth drum-work within the production that creates a solid foundation for her and Pharrell Williams to lay down some lyrics about pussy power once again and sexual freedom: “Got juice for all my lovers, got juice for all my wives. My juice is my religion, got juice between my thighs. Now, ask the angels, baby, my juice is so divine. Ain’t no juice quite like yours, ain’t no juice quite like mine. If you try to grab my pussy cat, this pussy grab you back.”
“I Like That,” sees her singing about celebrating everything that makes you different and not allowing anyone to tell you different, “I don’t give a damn if I was the only one,I like that…” she sings on the hook. She spits a rap on the bridge which gave me life “I remember when I cut my perm off and you rated me a 6 but even with the tears in my eyes, I always knew I was the shit.” This is hands down my favorite track as it hits home for me, being proudly and boldly androgynous and being extremely comfortable with my own sexuality to express myself as I see fit.
She follows it up with a short track “Stevie’s Dream” which simply speaks about using words of love that express the god in you “Even when you’re upset, these words of love, cause God is love, Allah is love, Jehovah is love. So don’t let your expressions, even of anger, be confused or misconstrued, turn them into words of expression, that can be understood by using words of love”
“Don’t Judge Me” is soothing number that reminds me of her early work, the production is simply stunning – the string work is out of this world and her vocals are so warm and heartfelt as sings about being perfectly imperfectly in love and have layers within you that try to hide to protect a image that holds so much pain and sadness inside: “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. But don’t judge me, I know I got issues but they drown when I kiss you…”
“So Afraid” is punk-folk number that`s extremely emotional as she sings about the fear of embracing a love so pure yet a love judged by many and a fear of failing her mission in this world is to giving millions of people around the world a voice through her art: “I’m a gift and a curse to the wilderness, when the leaves only turn to brown. The birds fly high and they wink at all of the grandmothers on the ground, rain pours down in the village dens, my cousins fetch for lunch, while I sit in my room writing letters to my church and things and such,…..I’m so afraid, what if I lose? Is what I think to myself, I’m finding my shell. I’m afraid of it all, afraid of loving you”
She ends the beautiful album with “Americans” which speaks about a sad reality and mindset that many people had and still have about the role of woman in this world “I like my woman in the kitchen, I teach my children superstitions. I keep my two guns on my blue nightstand, a pretty young thang, she can wash my clothes. But she’ll never ever wear my pants..” half through the track there`s strong message about America is not America until everyone is equal and free “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. Until poor whites can get a shot at being successful, this is not my America, I can’t hear nobody talkin’ to me…”
Janelle Monae has delivered her most groundbreaking and strongest musical offering since her underrated debut album “The ArchAndroid”, on this project she has truly come full circle as artist and as a black woman in this world, using her art to address so many topics that many people still view as taboo but she doesn`t care, it`s all about giving the voiceless a voice and reflect a beautiful that has it`s ups and downs but remain strong and pushes forward.