Queen Janelle Monáe is back after a five-year hiatus from music and she didn't come to play any games! The artist is prepping the release of her third full-length album Dirty Computer, which is backed by two new songs "Make Me Feel" and "Django Jane."
First up is "Make Me Feel," which she revealed was co-written with rising pop mastermind Julia Michaels, who has penned hits for Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Fifth Harmony and more. Monáe keeps the integrity of her idol and mentor Prince alive, as "Make Me Feel" sinks deep into funk and soul. From the introductory pulsating beats to the underwater synths and Monáe's sultry vocal delivery, the track is the perfect fusion of old-school rhythms and her signature ArchAndroid futurism. The accompanying video (which is her take on Black Mirror's classic "San Junipero" episode) takes it to the next level, as the artist and fellow actress Tessa Thompson get their groove on at an underground party. She seems freer than she's ever been in her career thus far, as she takes control of her sexual narrative by suggestively flirting with the camera and showing off her curves.
While "Make Me Feel" will literally make you feel liberated, it is "Django Jane" that secures the spotlight with its powerful message.
Instead of singing, Monáe chooses to ferociously rap, which forces you to listen to her words more intently. Standout lines include "Remember when they used to say I look too man-ish / Black girl magic, y'all can't stand it / Y'all can't ban it, made out like a bandit" and "N-gga move back, take a seat, you were not involved / And hit the mute button let the vagina have a monologue / Mansplaining, I fold em like origami."
"Django Janes" speaks to many pressing topics, including black girl magic, toxic masculinity, the inequalities minorities face in America and the Time's Up movement. If you aren't aware, women in Hollywood and music have been reclaiming their voice in the wake of the ongoing sexual harassment cases flooding the industry. Monáe herself is part of that movement and made a stern call to action at the 2018 GRAMMYs last month. Her speech read:
"Tonight, I am proud to stand in solidarity as not just an artist, but a young woman, with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry — artists, writers, assistants, publicists, CEOs, producers, engineers, and women from all sectors of the business. We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and human beings. To those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: #Timesup. We say Time’s Up for pay inequality, discrimination or harassment of any kind, and the abuse of power. We come in peace, but we mean business. “It’s not just going on in Hollywood, or in Washington, it’s right here in our industry as well. And just as we have the just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. So, let’s work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women.”
Monáe has never been one to back down from boundaries that will hinder her journey for equal rights, in the music business or elsewhere. And with her upcoming album Dirty Computer (coming out on April 27), it appears that she will continue to use her creativity to inspire change.