Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer Album Review
Janelle Monáe has us embracing our viruses and what makes us different - and we have never been happier to call ourselves a Dirty Computer.
ORIGINALITY10
LYRICS10
REPLAY VALUE10
INSTRUMENTATION10
IMPACT10
WE LIKED..
  • The mix of genres - that Django Jane rap especially
  • The message it sends
WE DIDN'T LIKE...
  • Nothing, not even the Pharrell feature
10Overall Score
Reader Rating: (5 Votes)
9.2

Even without watching the ‘emotion picture’ that accompanies it, simply listening to Dirty Computer leaves no doubt that it tells a story.

The album’s accompanying film paints us a dystopian future, where those who dare to be different are wiped clean and put back in line, serving as a warning to those who are ‘dirty.’

But while the mind-controlling technology shown in the mini-film may still be a few years off (hopefully,) the concept of altering who you are to keep the crowd happy is still all too real for a lot of people.

This is part of what makes the album so important, and means that it is sure to strike a chord with so many – whether they like it or not.

Monáe’s lyrics and all-round attitude rebel against not only this world of her own creation, but the world we are all living in right now.

Even in its lightest, most feel-good moments such as the borderline-bubblegum pop verses of Pynk, Dirty Computer is still breaking boundaries.

It’s true that women producing sexually-charged singles is nothing new, but to hear it done in a way that is both provocative and romantic all at once feels fresh.

Lines like ‘Pink like your fingers in my, maybe/Pink is the truth you can’t hide/Pink like your tongue going round, baby,’ are miles off being innocent. But Monáe manages to make them sound so dreamlike, and delivers them with such delight, it would be easy to slip up and listen to the tune with your grandmother.

Paired with the emotion picture pink-tinted scenes of Janelle and Tessa Thompson acting loved up on a beach, and neon signs that promote ‘pussy power,’ it feels like Pynk is exactly what queer women needed in their lives right now.

janelle monáe pynkCredit – Janelle Monáe, Pynk

Pussy power is a running theme through Dirty Computer. Songs like I Got The Juice provide an angsty anthem for women everywhere who are feeling justifiably pissed off in a Trump-filled era, encouraging us to sing along with lines like ‘If you try to grab my pussy cat, this pussy grab you back.’

While this track is a little less grandparent-friendly (my juice is my religion, got juice between my thighs, might be a little too explicit for the elderly,) it is also one which might upset the misogynists among us. Which, in my eyes at least, makes it the perfect anthem for 2018, which has seen movements such as #MeToo rightfully gain massive media attention.

Dirty Computer is anything but lacking in moments of empowerment and encouragement of self-love. But for me one in particular stands out. These lyrics lie in amongst the dreamy vocal-layered lines of I Like That.


In the third verse we hear a memory, to which most of us who have suffered rejection can regretfully relate.

Monáe reminisces ‘Uh, I remember when you laughed when I cut my perm off/And you rated me a six.’ It is a moment which can happen to anyone, at any point, and be crushing when it does.

Yet the following, ‘but even back then with the tears in my eyes/I always knew I was the shit’ give us a mantra to live by. Something along the lines of ‘don’t let anyone get you down,’ but with more Janelle Monáe fuelled flair.

Dissecting the album for each empowering word, and every moment when Monáe showcases her endless supply of talent (the rapping in Django Jane, for example,) would require far more than one blog post. With the added extraordinary emotion picture, well, a whole novel could be dedicated to it.

The only way to get an idea of how good Dirty Computer really is (and we are talking album of the year contender good)  is to go listen to it in full, which you can do here:

If that isn’t enough for you, you can watch the emotion picture here.

Featured Image Credit: AXELLE/BAUER-GRIFFIN/FILMMAGIC

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