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Jun 14, 2019

Janelle Monae: The Overachiever Celebrity Who Can Make Great Music and Can Act As Well

I actually did not know that the actress, Janelle Monae, whom I have been watching in those Oscar-nominated movies Moonlight and Hidden Figures was already an established singer with two studio albums (The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady) under her belt, at that point in her career. As an actress, she is just a joy to watch and I am in love with her! She radiates this warmth in Moonlight and this ‘don’t bullshit me’ persona in Hidden Figures, that even if her roles in those two films were just supporting ones, her performances clearly shone and stood out – bringing so much to the respective movies. I only heard that she was a singer, when the Recording Academy feted her album Dirty Computer with a coveted Album of the Year nomination. I went “What? She’s actually a singer?” I was really surprised and what added more interest is that it’s so hard to get a Grammy Album of the Year nomination, so if she got one, this album must really be good – considering that she’s black, she’s a woman, and she doesn’t really have huge hits to broadcast her presence – unlike some of her actress/singer peers (Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson). Funny thing is I only knew Childish Gambino and Kacey Musgraves and a little of The Black Panther album among that year’s nominees. Anyway, it was a good surprise and I immediately got myself a copy of the album. After listening to it, I couldn’t agree more with the voters of the Recording Academy! What I heard was music of sheer pure bliss, of a mature, headstrong, self-assured woman who knew who she is and is ready to take on any challenge in the world. After listening to all the nominees for Grammy Album of the Year, when my fellow critic friends and I made a mock vote for that category, I gave my vote to Janelle’s album. It was really a toss-up between Kacey’s and hers but since I could hear traces of Prince in this album (I learned later why!), and I loved seeing a confident woman navigate the territories of sex and power and gender identity in a headstrong manner, my vote went to Dirty Computer – and even with her loss (to Kacey Musgraves at the actual Grammys), at least the Recording Academy reminded me that there are artists out there who have bold ideas and although I feel that she is unburdening but still keeping vulnerable parts of herself away from public view, I don’t really mind it. We don’t need to see a full confessional in just one album. Giving tidbits of it away is much better since people change as they become older, more mature, and less reckless.

Written by @tonyfabelous from Fabelousity
May 17, 2019

Dirty Computer Deserved Album Of The Year And Please Stay Seated As I Tell You Why

I was never really a fan of Janelle Monáe before 2018. I knew of her. I had heard a few of her songs like “Tightrope” and “Yoga” played nonstop in department stores (mostly because I used to work in them). The first time I actually became aware of her existence was during a performance she did with Bruno Mars at the 2011 Grammy Awards ceremony. I had no idea who this girl was, but I liked Bruno Mars and the performance. Then, of course, we can’t forget her literal 15 seconds of fame for being featured on fun.’s breakout hit “We Are Young.” I do not mean that in any negative way, I just really don’t remember her singing more than just the bridge of the song very quietly. She failed to captivate me around that time, so I never truly immersed myself in her music. I continued to hear wonderful things about her, knowing of the acclaim she’s received on past records like The Electric Lady and The ArchAndroid, but still never sitting down and officially giving her that chance. I got close. I remember a few years back, a friend of mine was moving away and she was finishing up packing, and she had a few random items, including CD’s and movies. I managed to score Hot Fuss by The Killers and a VHS of The Nightmare Before Christmas (which quickly became useless because I didn’t have a way to watch it), and then I saw a copy of The Electric Lady and I thought that maybe it was time to finally give this Janelle Monáe girl a shot. As I reached for it; however, my friend said “Oh no, not that. I’m keeping that.” Hearing this made me even more curious about Janelle Monáe. People were unwillingly to give away her music — I needed to understand. And in 2018, I finally did.

Mar 04, 2019

Janelle Monáe Strikes A Vein Of Pure Gold On Her Latest Album Dirty Computer

I’m just gonna come right out & say it – When I first laid ears on Janelle Monáe, I was wholeheartedly unimpressed with her entire aesthetic, believing her schtick was little more than a gimmick in an industry so underwhelming that audiences were virtually forced to enjoy her just because she was so different from the sludge they were being served by mainstream studios. It was admittedly refreshing to hear a younger artist engrossing herself so heavily in the more Motown-centric era of the R&B scene, but it wasn’t quite authentic enough to genuinely capture my attention, feeling like another halfhearted attempt to capitalize on the Bubblegum Pop ideals just as Megan Trainor had been doing around 2009; Sure, Monáe’s career extended 6 years prior to Trainor’s mainstream introduction, but the height of her popularity coincided with her Caucasian counterpart’s so seamlessly that I just couldn’t feel the real soul of her music as I was meant to, rendering me skeptical that anything other than the fantastic “Electric Lady” would make it more than a year or two in terms of popularity – Well, you can consider me a fool of a took, as Gandalf The Grey so famously said, because her 2018 record Dirty Computer is nothing short of sonic excellence, representing everything I’ve always wanted from the modern R&B scene without making any sacrifices as far as personality is concerned, delivering a stunning musical experience I won’t soon forget.

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