Queer, Black, and Proud
Janelle Monae releases her most personal project yet
Janelle Monae wears many hats in the creative field. She is an American singer, songwriter, producer, rapper, actress, and model.
She has dropped her third album, Dirty Computer, as well as a companion short film. It follows The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady. Janelle describes this album as “the soundtrack for Carefree Black Women who are Beautiful as Fuck.” Dirty Computer highlights the experience of being a part of a marginalized group and have your very existence erased. She compares dirty computers to humans and how society tries to mold us into something socially acceptable.
It’s no secret that we’re seeing Janelle Monae evolve as an artist right before our eyes. This album is her most personal work. She has begun to share parts of her to the world that she previously refused to. It is every artist’s right to decide how much we are allowed to observe about their private life.
For years, people have poked and prodded Janelle to get information about her sexuality. In her interview with Rolling Stone she officially came out as Pansexual. It was only a matter of time before the word became the most searched word of the day.
“Being a queer black woman in America,” she says, taking a breath as she comes out, “someone who has been in relationships with both men and women — I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.” — Janelle Monae
She still refused to address details about her personal dating life. However, she gave a empowering quote for the LGBTQ community members. Her song “Make Me Feel” was declared the bisexual anthem mere hours after it dropped.
“I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you,” she says in a tone befitting the commander patch on her arm. “This album is for you. Be proud.” -Janelle Monae
The heavily anticipated album released at Midnight on Thursday April 27th while the short film debuted on BET.
I downloaded the album from Spotify as soon as I woke up this morning. Dirty Computer holds features from Brian Wilson, Pharrell, Zoe Kravitz, and Grimes. It is fourteen songs long and approximately forty–eight minutes.
One of the first signs of evolution is the addition of Janelle Monae rapping. Django Jane was released as a single for this album. She raps on this song for the full three minutes and ten seconds. She also raps on various other songs like Crazy, Classic Life and Screwed.
While some like to point out that she hasn’t had a single hit appear on the Billboard Hot 100, she is still far from a flop. She’s using her talent and platform to empower women, inspire LGBTQ members, and speak out against injustice. She refuses to conform to society’s standards for black women artists. Janelle has never played the part most female artists are encouraged to participate in from music labels. She earned her success on her own terms.
“Until women can get equal pay and 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 Latinos and Latinas don’t have to run from walls, this is not my America!” — Janelle Monae, from the song Americans
She has always referred to herself as something other than human.
It is a protective measure that most LGBTQ members know all to well. I used to call myself an alien. People spent so much time and effort defining me as different that I actually began to believe them.
LGBTQ members are targeted and ostracized on a daily bases. They are ambushed in locker rooms, stores, doctor’s offices, and anywhere else they might be. This is why some people choose to stay in the “closet”, because it is safer. It’s safer if people don’t know who you are in some cases unfortunately.
Transgender women are beaten and killed. LGBTQ kids and teenagers are bullied at school and sometimes at home. Adults are discriminated against in the workforce. Laws are pushed to give businesses the right to refuse services to LGBTQ members. Trump is trying to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military.
People become paranoid and filled with hopelessness.
To have an army of people against your very existence is heartbreaking.
Scraping up enough courage to step out into the cold world everyday is a tremendous effort. Religious people attack LGBTQ members as if their ancestors weren’t persecuted for how they lived back in ancient times. They were tortured, killed, and denied basic rights in other developing countries. Their bibles were burned and they were forced to worship in secret. However, in today’s world, some religious members are showing the same brutal intolerance towards LGBTQ members.
Janelle Monae has put together a cohesive project that represents both LGBTQ members and women in a world where both are treated unfairly in various circumstances. She is using her platform to lift up others. She uses her light to help others shine and uses her voice to speak for those who have been silenced.
“I am not America’s nightmare — I am the American dream”–Janelle Monae, from the song Crazy, Classic Life
I hope you enjoyed this piece and I hope you have an amazing day. Dirty Computer is on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, and any other music provider. I recommend you give it a listen. I love it so far. Feel free to respond and give me your thoughts as well.