– Antonella Kinder
Janelle Monae is beautifully and unapologetically Janelle Monae.
Been Hiding Under a Rock?
Monae famously uniforms herself in black and white fitted tuxedo’s paired with a chic fifties-esque do. She shrugs off repeated invasive inquiries into her sexuality, preferring to describe herself as a sexually liberated advocate of love. I personally like to imagine her tux as some kind of form fitting middle finger to those who can’t look at her without needing to box her into a category they can more readily understand.
In 2012 Monae was named the new face of Covergirl. At the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! 2012 awards ceremony where she was presented the Young Gifted and Black Award she stated in her acceptance speech, “I want to be clear young girls, I didn’t have to change who I was to become a Covergirl, I didn’t have to become perfect because I’ve learned through my journey that perfection is often the enemy of greatness. Embrace what makes you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable.”
Okay, But What About Now?
If her recent singles and accompanying emotion pictures (narrative films and accompanying musical album) are any indicator, Janelle Monae’s yet to be dropped album, Dirty Computer, is a further exploration into Monae’s unapologetic self, the celebration of black women, female empowerment, and – in some newer territory – a clearer narrative into her own fluid sexuality.
Django Jane – a rap anthem to her roots and a celebration of black women
Remember when they used to say I look too mannish / Black girl magic, ya’ll can’t stand it
We gave you life, we gave you birth / We gave you God, we gave you Earth / We fem the future, don’t make it worse / You want the world? Well what’s it worth?
Make Me Feel – funky and sensual with some heavy bisexual/fluid sexuality overtones and Prince vibes
Baby don’t make me spell it out for you
It’s like I’m powerful with a little bit of tender / An emotional, sexual bender / Mess me up, yeah, but no one does it better/ There’s nothin’ better
Pynk – starts out soft and sweet before slipping into a pop chorus; a definite, tongue in cheek (ha) pretty-in-pink anthem to ladies and their lady bits
Pink like the inside of your, baby (we’re all just pink) / Pink like the walls and the doors, maybe (deep inside, we’re all just pink) / Pink like your fingers in my, maybe / Pink is the truth you can’t hide / Pink is my favorite part
What Does Janelle Monae Have To Say?
“I hope that comes across. That people feel more free, no matter where they are in their lives, that they feel celebrated. Because I’m about women’s empowerment. I’m about agency. I’m about being in control of your narrative and your body. That was personal for me to even talk about: to let people know you don’t own or control me and you will not use my image to defame or denounce other women.”
“I see how people try to pit women against each other,” she says. “There are people who have used my image to slut-shame other women: ‘Janelle, we really appreciate that you don’t show your body.’ That’s something I’m not cool with. I have worn a tuxedo, but I have never covered up for respectability politics or to shame other women.” – Janelle Monae, The Guardian