Artist News Releases

Stop everything, Janelle Monáe’s released two new songs

By | Published on Friday 23 February 2018

Janelle Monáe

Right, clear the decks. Janelle Monáe’s just released two new singles, so all other music today is cancelled. Sorry, that’ll teach you to accidentally release new music at the same time as Janelle Monáe. Maybe next time you’ll be more careful.

She’s also announced that her third album, ‘Dirty Computer’, will be out on 27 Apr. While there has been a narrative running through her last two albums, this one will come accompanied by what she is calling “an emotion picture”. She’s also calling it “a narrative film”, but I’ve already said narrative once in this paragraph, so I can’t use it again. What was wrong with calling these things visual albums, like they did in the old days?

“I actually had this title and this concept before my first album ‘The ArchAndroid'”, Monáe told Zane Lowe on Beats 1. “It scared me because a lot of the things that I knew that I needed to say were very deep, very personal, from the heart. You know, this is an extremely vulnerable album and it took me a while to make it because I’m a self editor”.

Anyway, these new songs. Both add new layers to what might be thought of as ‘her sound’, while also remaining firmly within her universe. The first is ‘Make Me Feel’, on which she channels former collaborator and mentor Prince.

Speaking about his continued influence on her in a new interview with The Guardian, she says: “It’s difficult for me to even speak about this because Prince was helping me with the album, before he passed on to another frequency. [His death was] a stab in the stomach. The last time I saw him was New Year’s Day. I performed a private party in St Bart’s with him, and after we sat and just talked for five hours. He was one of the people I would talk to about things, him and Stevie Wonder”.

She adds: “I dedicate a lot of my music to Prince, for everything he’s done for music and black people and women and men, for those who have something to say and also at the same time will not allow society to take the dirt off of them. It’s about that dirt, and not getting rid of that dirt”.

Song number two is ‘Django Jane’, a very different piece of work that sees Monáe rapping part manifesto, part rallying call. Firmly feminist, at one point she deadpans, “Hit the mute button, let the vagina have a monologue”.

She describes the song as “a response to me feeling the sting of the threats being made to my rights as a woman, as a black woman, as a sexually liberated woman, even just as a daughter with parents who have been oppressed for many decades. Black women and those who have been the ‘other’, and the marginalised in society – that’s who I wanted to support, and that was more important than my discomfort about speaking out”.

More details about the album, and the accompanying film, are expected in the coming weeks. For now, you can try to glean some information about the wider themes of the record (and whether this new, more personal approach means we won’t be delving back into the dystopian fantasy that has run through all of her other releases) by watching this trailer.