The 5 Most Life-Affirming Moments Of Janelle Monae's 'Dirty Computer'

The 5 Most Life-Affirming Moments Of Janelle Monae's 'Dirty Computer'

Here's the thing about Janelle Monáe's new album Dirty Computer, out today: it's everything the critics are saying it is. "A perfect celebration of queerness, female power, and self-worth?" Yep, sure is! A surefire "contender for album of the year?" 100%. "Irresistibly danceable and irrefutably topical?" How could it not be! A record made by "one of the greatest artists of our time carrying Prince's baton into the new world?" OK, now that one deserves an ecstatic fuck yes.

Whatever you want to say about Dirty Computer, Monáe has probably already thought and said it which is why to me, this record will go down as a milestone as work of art in its own right. Authorship is important: Monáe co-wrote and co-produced every moment of this album, which she always does, to be clear. It helps, too, that the record is not only serves as her most explicitly political commentary to-date, but it's also her most accessible, with radio-ready hooks aplenty and funk-pop arrangements that we're sure Prince is grooving to in Purple Heaven.

Related | Janelle Monáe Is Out as Pansexual, and Here's What That Means

And since Monáe is not only out and proud in every way as a black, queer, self-made musician and as a human, her potential to affirm lives everywhere is at an all-time high. We picked five of the most life-affirming moments on the album, and included lyrical selections courtesy of Genius. You're welcome.

"Crazy, Classic, Life"

In the tracklist reveal for this album, Monáe wrote that "Crazy, Classic, Life" was "inspired by the vibranium in Wakanda, wild mushroom tea parties in Mexico, and the notion that true freedom also comes from 'the right to be wrong, at least occasionally,' see Mary Beard's pronouncement in WOMEN & POWER: 'It is not just that it is more difficult for women to succeed; they get treated much more harshly if they mess up.'"

I can definitely see that this song sets the tone of personal power that pumps so much life into this record, hence the vibranium reference. But it's really a groove about being free and thriving.

Young, black, wild and free/Naked on a limousine/ Riding through the hood real slow/I love it when we smell the trees/I just wanna party hard/Sex in the swimming pool/I don't need a lot of cash/I just wanna break the rules

We don't need another ruler/All of my friends are kings /I'm not American's nightmare
I'm the American dream/Just let me live my life


This one's a beauty about America's backwards ways, but it bucks the idea of being a NRA-loving gun-toting loon by flipping it into a plea for acceptance. For Monáe, this could mean her sexual identity or her artistic expression — but she could also be encouraging us to have compassion for our loonier fellow Americans. The end of the song includes a speech imagining that will rally solidarity around what matters most.

Just love me baby, love me for who I am/Fallen angels singing, "Clap your hands"/Don't try to take my country, I will defend my land/I'm not crazy, baby, naw/I'm American

It continues:

Let me help you in here
Until women can get equal pay for 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 poor whites can get a shot at being successful
This is not my America
I can't hear nobody talkin' to me

Until Latinos and Latinas don't have to run from walls

This is not my America

But I tell you today that the devil is a liar
Because it's gon' be my America before it's all over
Please sign your name on the dotted line

"Pynk" (Feat. Grimes)

This delightful Grimes-assisted jam about pussy power and the source of all life is so potent and relevant that we'll just let the iconic lyrics speak for themselves. Plus, the queer-masterpiece-of-a-video to this thing will have scholars the world over gagging for at least the next five years.

Pynk, like the inside of (we're all just pink)/Pynk, like the walls and the doors...maybe (deep inside, we're all just pynk)/Pynk, like your fingers in my...maybe/Pynk is the truth you can't hide/Pynk, like your tongue going, like the sun going down...maybe/Pynk, like the holes in your is my favorite part.

"I Got The Juice" (Feat. Pharrell Williams)

Oh! You thought Monáe was done! There's much more pussy praise to be given, and blessed be that this is the case. Centuries of systemic oppression of black women will not be undone by one Janelle Monáe song, so she's kind enough to bless us with another one addressing her — ahem — divinity. I mean, listen, black women are sacred, and Monáe is just doing her due diligence to remind us.

Got juice for all my lovers, got juice for all my wives/My juice is my religion, got juice between my thighs/Now, ask the angels, baby, my juice is so divine/Ain't no juice quite like yours, ain't no juice quite like mine

If you try to grab my pussy cat/This pussy grab you back.

"Screwed" (Feat. Zoë Kravtiz)

Here forever for Monáe's rapping. When "Django Jane" was one the first two videos dropped from this album, I hard gagged internally and externally because I knew she could write, but I didn't know she could spit. This Zoë Kravitz-assisted bop is an '80s synthy rollercoaster of a tune about the day after 45 was elected. But it reclaims the power stolen from us through personal and sexual agency. The way Monáe closes "Screwed" out with these lines about 45's corruption, and the enduring oppression of the patriarchy is the way people everywhere should continue to talk if we want the change we seek. We're thankful that she is a power of example. For real.

Hundred men telling me cover up my areolas
While they blocking equal pay, sippin' on they Coca Colas
Fake news, fake boobs, fake food — what's real?
Still in The Matrix eatin' on the blue pills
The devil met with Russia and they just made a deal
We was marching through the street, they were blocking every bill
I'm tired of hoteps tryna tell me how to feel