Interview with Janelle Monáe: “I consider myself a free ass motherfucker.”

Two days ago, Janelle Monáe released the creative video for her powerful track “Pynk” featuring Grimes. The song is the third single off her upcoming record “Dirty Computer” and the third stunning video of the style icon. In a new interview at the Soho House in Berlin, the singer talks about female blackness in the USA, working with Prince, “Black Girl Magic, free sexuality and her brand new album “Dirty Computer” which is due out on April 27th. 

About the line “remember…. when I got my perm, you rated me a 6. I was like damn. Even back then- with tears in my eyes – I knew I was the shit!“ in the song “I Like That“:

It’s a story that I personally experienced as I was growing into loving my natural hair; the coarseness of it, the kinkiness of it. It wasn’t always celebrated with the guys who were classmates of mine. They didn’t always love the beauty of a natural black haired girl. And I remember feeling very insecure about it, feeling like I needed to look more euro centric to be beautiful. I was just telling the story of so many women, young girls that have gone to those transitions where they are embracing the things that make them unique, that gives them their identity and feeling like ‘was this a mistake?’ and then finding out ‘no, this is self-love’ and self-love is more important than popularity. That’s the story of“I like that”. Embracing the things that make you unique, even if it makes other uncomfortable, self-confidence, self-love.

What Black Girl Magic means to her:

Black Girl Magic for me represents confidence, the love of ones blackness. I am African-American and loving that I have African features and loving that my hair is coarse, my skin is full of …. I am highly melanated. It’s embracing the things society has told us are not standard beauty. It’s not standard beauty to be black and to embrace your blackness. We don’t see ourselves as Nr. 1 because of the media, because of magazines, because of the way we are portrayed. Our beauty runs so deep. We are Kings. We are Queens. And when it comes to women Black Girl Magic is the closest thing to…. touching something….or being something….that….. is special. It’s celebrating our specialness and knowing that we haven’t always been loved or being looked at as beautiful. But it’s taking back our power as black women and saying that what I have is very special and I know it and I never let anyone get in the way of ….. me loving myself.

Has „Black Girl Magic“ been approved in 2018?

We don’t need approval. We approve of ourselves. BGM is about being proud, supporting one another, embracing one another, embracing those things that make you unique – as I mentioned earlier – even it makes others uncomfortable. For centuries we have been the backbones of the USA. We built the White House, we built the country. It was built on our ancestors backs and only magical people, only strong people who go somewhere mentally could deal with the oppression we had to deal with. I think now we are taking back our human rights and we are saying ‘we are resisting against any person because we are less them because of the colour of our skin

Photo: JUCO

How she feels about Jada Pinkett Smith boycotting the 2016 Oscars because all nominees went to the white female actresses:

I love Jada Pinkett Smith, I love Jay Z, his last album. I love what Jada represents for our community and absolutely, I think she was talking about ourselves and coming together united more and I don’t see any issue with that. I think we should come together more and create more opportunities for each other. Especially those in the position of power. The small amount who are Afro-American, who are black. It would be great to see what we could do as a community. Communities from the Jewish community, from the Asian community, from the white community – they definitely pour their resources together and done some very powerful things. And we have done it in the past. We can do it again.

About the concept of “Dirty Computer”:

“Dirty Computer” was a concept and an album I knew I needed to make before the “Arch Android”, my 1st album. So I kind of put this album off and made 2 albums, Arch Android and Electric Lady, and then I got back to this one, because I knew it would take a deep level of vulnerability and honesty and I don’t think I was ready to dive in to myself, you know, it took me living with myself to understand me more. I went through a lot of emotions with “Dirty Computer”, because living in America – looking from a lense from a young black African-American woman … there were a lot of emotions I went through. From feeling like my rights as a woman had been trampled on were gonna be revote. I went through a lot with the people I love. Like my parents who are working class, parents who were janitors, they were sanitation workers, they were post office workers, wearing uniforms every day, helping clean and make this country look beautiful. And you have a guy in office and his administration saying that the poor community where my parents have come from, they don’t matter. It’s more about the rich getting rich and the poor staying poor. The LGBTQ community are….. you know, this guy and his administration saying that between this community and immigrants who come into this country, who helped build this country, they don’t matter, their voices don’t matter. So I went through a lot and I had to channel that anger and I had to focus on celebrating these individuals. Celebrating us. We are the reason thatAmerica thrives. It’s because of our uniqueness. It’s because of the things we bring/ our different perspectives we bring to America that allows us to be the melting pot that it is. That allows us that so many cultures exist in one country. It inspires musical styles, fashion, everything. We put so much beauty in the fabric that is America and I think this is about fighting for our human rights. So “Dirty Computer” dealt with the bugs and the viruses that society says we need to fix. We need to be cleansed. And Dirty Computer don’t see their bugs and viruses as the negative, they see it as a feature, a positive. BecauseI am unique, I have value to America, I have value to your culture and that’s what a dirty computer is about and I hope that everyone who listens to this album– all the dirty computers around the world , not just in America – all the dirty computers feel seen, feel heard and feel celebrated. A dirty computer, I mean, if you look at human beings, we are cp use, you know, our brains are constantly uploading and downloading information. So we are computers in a sense and we also come from the dirt andI think we can’t lose sight of that dirt, for me at least. The dirt that makes us human is the dirt that makes us complex humans.

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Melissa Wilke

Editor-in-chief | After two years in PR, I now work as an Account Manager in an advertising agency in the beautiful city of Duesseldorf. I’ve been blogging for 7 years on several websites and started working as a freelance writer for music magazines in 2013. I believe in the social value of music and its power to change the world for the better. My favourite bands/artists are Green Day, Enter Shikari, Linkin Park, Marmozets, SWMRS, Lana del Rey, Paramore, Foo Fighters, Nirvana and too many more to list them all.

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