By John Carter Jr
Being nominated for a Grammy award for best album of the year, Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer, is one that represents a level of music that hasn’t been seen recently. It establishes a new precedent for what good music can be and the limits of the previously established status quo concerning music. Dirty Computer is an amalgamation of different facets of the many music genres and exists as a form of protest towards the injustice is that goes on in the world through its lyrics. It is one of the best albums of this past year and furthermore, will go on to establish Janelle Monae as an impressive, intelligent, and outspoken success for her career. Just this album expresses the extent to which she is a success and the heightened excellence of her music is evident of that.
Dirty Computer is many things and has high-quality tracks throughout. It has the aesthetic of many different mediums. When listening to the album all I could think about was how it was like if the episodes of Black Mirror had been taken and made into music videos. The album has consistent themes running throughout that make for a cohesive letter of ideas being sent to the listeners of the world. Women are powerful and have a say, and are people that exist and matter. Love transpires the traditional binaries and norms, race is important but it should not affect our access to rights, most of all we are individuals and our individuality should not be pressed out of us. This album is so ambitious and pays homage to those who came before us, going as far as using lines from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches. These nominated and award-winning pieces are impressive ones. Here are the Highlights;
Screwed (feat. Zoe Kravitz)
This song is one of sexual liberation and partying. It is an exciting piece that gives itself to the youth. It speaks of the relationship between the concepts of power and how sex is a powerful thing can be used to for power Or how sex itself is in essence power. The line “let’s get screwed, I don’t care” is representative of the carefree spirit and ideas of the youth in any era. This concept of youth and timelessness is the hallmark of the experience of young people.
The song evokes a feeling of inspiration and simultaneously a carefree spirit. The song’s switches vocals in the end and delivers a rap monologue to the listener — which is key to the execution of the song. It represents the forces that hold back the youth in the execution of their laxness and liberation. We can tell this given throughout the song the vocalization by Monae is light and upbeat, The last few moments of the song are very solid and deep sounding with an air of strength in her voice.
This song speaks to the power and necessity that women are to society, in that without women we wouldn’t have many of the things that we do. Furthermore, the song states women are so integral to the functioning of humanity that they deserve equal treatment. It inspires a feeling of strength, power, confidence, and control for women whether they be black, LGBTQ, or otherwise. This song particularly speaks to those of racial minority, most specifically black women. “ highly melanated” a line used in this piece reference this. In that Melanin is the component that gives brown people their pigmentation. “We gave you life, we gave you birth, we gave you God, we gave you Earth”, This line is executed well by Monae in that her pauses in between each statement adds to the intensity of the effect of each statement.
Stating that without women we wouldn’t have life, without women none of us would have been born, without women the spreading of the ideologies of Theology and philosophy would not have been successful, and without all these aforementioned things we wouldn’t have the world that we have today. “Let the Vagina Have a Monologue”Finally this line speaks to the platform that women want for other women, In that it takes women to tell their truth.
This album that has many more intense and inspiring tracks that represent what we as a culture need to be moving toward. Sexual liberation, the defeat of homophobia, gender and sex equality, transgender rights, women’s rights, the equal rights for every individual regardless of race, and in its simplest form the push to open to a more progressive and open mindset. Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer is cutting edge and represents a new kind of young person – it’s weird, dirty, and freaky fun.
I give this album a 10 out of 10 for commentaries on social themes, it’s impressive vocalization by Janelle Monae, and it’s execution in the Americanization of multiple genres.