Janelle Monae’s album touches on politics


Rachel Stofanak, Staff Writer

Janelle Monae goes above and beyond other artists on her new album, Dirty Computer, by releasing an almost hour-long “emotion picture” along with the album.

The short film, featuring Tessa Thompson alongside Monae, takes place in a futuristic society where citizens are referred to as “computers.” If someone defies the authoritarian government, they are referred to as a “dirty computer,” and they have their memory wiped. The film focuses on Monae’s character, Jane 57821, having her memory wiped as the wipers rewatch her memories. Each of her memories is one of the songs from the album.

Each of the album’s music videos is a short film in itself, with stunning visuals that perfectly capture the mood of each song.

This album is a departure from Monae’s android alter ego from her previous albums, celebrating humanity and the real person behind the music.

Nods to music legends are found throughout the album. Prince helped co-write the album before his death, and Stevie Wonder’s voice is featured in one of the songs.

The album features a variety of sounds, from the simple-but-powerful rapping of “Django Jane” to the cotton-candy sound of “Pynk,” while “Make Me Feel” provides toe-tapping beats that are perfect to dance to. However, “I Like That” doesn’t achieve its goal of being surreal, but rather feels gimmicky.

Like many albums from this year, the Dirty Computer touches on political issues. However, it manages not to be so political that the album will seem outdated in just a few years.

Rather, it is an ode to the America Monae wishes for. In the last song on the album, “Americans,” Monae sings, “Don’t try to take my country, I will defend my land.” Like the rest of the album, this line celebrates the America that fights for equality, and it is an act of rebellion against the America that doesn’t.