Album Review — Dirty Computer — Janelle Monáe

If there is any album released in 2018 better than 6lack’s East Atlanta Love Letter, than this one is it! (In my humble opinion.) The record dropped on April 27, 2018 and I got around to it a few months late because I associate Janelle Monáe with what I consider sugar pop, which isn’t my favorite genre.

Instead Dirty Computer delivered straight funk. It took Monáe three years to write her third studio album that lasts nearly 49 minutes. And you can absolutely tell.

The title track is actually one of my least favorite on the project, which isn’t new. (Let’s face it. Most title tracks suck.) But Monáe gets major points for context. She’s writing an album for historians, like me, that study music for clues about society. Imagine being a historian in America circa 3012, searching through archives looking for some material on technology and love in music and you proverbially dust off Dirty Computer.

The album could easily have been named “Pynk”, after the track. Other than the name being gender limiting in some spaces, the track encompasses the entire feel of the whole project. Janelle makes femininity tough and funkY, with a capital Y. If the concept womanism was an album then this is as close pop is going to come to it.

I am a pretty ardent rap or soul fan, so for me, Janelle’s project is a bit different. Maybe I would describe it as borderline trippy? Not bad at all, yet it took a couple of listens to truly settle into me because it was kind of dense with beauty. And also, poppy. Yeah. It’s different. Lol. But the music is so real. I mean, she hits so many societal issues right on the head in a manner that makes you want to listen it again and again.

Once again, if the mark of a masterpiece is a piece of the master than this delivers. Monáe brought me into her living room of troubles and seated me at the feet of her sorrows then spoon-fed me her triumph. I’m really excited to write her rapper-poems. Django Jane ain’t nothing, if it ain’t a poem. Sis snapped. I honestly don’t have enough numbers on this scale to rate how well this album was done. But I shall try.

Herstun Scale — Throw +++++++++ at the end of that 5.

Album Highlights

Fave Tracks

“Django Jane”


“I Got The Juice”

“I Like That”


Least FaveAgain, so subjective. Sigh.

“Crazy, Classic, Life”

“Make Me Feel”

“Don’t Judge Me”

“Dirty Computer”

Lyrical Highlights

I live my life in a magazine.
I live my life on a TV screen.
I live my life on birth control.
I lost my mind on rock and roll and I hear the sirens calling.
And the bombs are falling in the streets. —
We’re all screwed!
And it’s not perfect, baby.
But I go sex crazy.
But I feel so screwed.

Sex, body.
We’re gonna crash your party
Let’s get screwed ! —
I don’t care.
You fucked the world up now, we’ll fuck it all back down
Let’s get screwed —
I don’t care.
We’ll put water in your guns.
We’ll do it all for fun.
Let’s get screwed.

See everything is sex.
Except sex, which is power.
You know power is just sex.
You screw me and I’ll screw you too.
Everything is sex.
Except sex, which is power.
You know power is just sex.
Now ask yourself who’s screwing you?

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.
For real.

“Screwed” by Janelle Monáe & Zoe Kravitz

Sometimes [I’m] a mystery, sometimes I’m free.
Depending on my mood or my attitude.
Sometimes I wanna roll or stay at home.
Walking contradiction, guess I’m factual and fiction.
A little crazy, little sexy, little cool.
Little rough around the edges, but I keep it smooth.
I’m always left of center and that’s right where I belong.
I’m the random minor note you hear in major songs.

I don’t care what I look like but I feel good.
Better than amazing, and better than I could.
Told the whole world, I’m the venom and the antidote.
Take a different type of girl to keep the whole world afloat.

I remember when you called me weird.
We was in math class, third row, I was sitting by you.
Right before Mr. Ammond’s class.
‘Cause my mom couldn’t afford new J’s.
Polos, thrift store, thrift clothes that was all I knew.
Do you remember?

Uh, I remember when you laughed when I cut my perm off.
And you rated me a six
I was like, “Damn.”
But even back then with the tears in my eyes.
I always knew I was the shit.

I like that.
I don’t really give a fuck if I was just the only one.
Who likes that.

I never like to follow…

“I Like That” by Janelle Monáe & Nathaniel Irvin

The album was dope. No doubt. I did notice that Janelle shared songwriting credit with some BIG names in the industry and I don’t begrudge her that. I think the mark of a brilliant artist can be their collaborative ability. (Although, J. Cole seeks to challenge me on that, and I do love a good challenge.) I am just going to highlight a couple here:

  • Nathaniel Irvin is a quiet beast that worked on Idlewild with Outcast. He has credits on over 30 projects, with 70 percent being Janelle’s. Irvin and Monae have been buddy-buddy since 2006, and he has writing and arrangement credits on songs on all three of her albums, including all of the tracks on Dirty Computer.
  • Taylor Monet Parks is another behind the scenes beast. She’s been featured vocally in a couple of projects and produce at least five more. Parks (also known as Tayla Parx) has worked with a variety of groups including Danity Kane and Fifth Harmony, which makes me question her connection to P. Diddy, the creator of both all-girl bands. Parks has also written or arranged for Alicia Keys, Jason Derulo, and Mariah Carey.

Janelle Monáe live

No Tiny Desk Concert on Monáe. I would love to see her live though. Homegirl werks for the money. Production is fire. Check out this little snippet of her BET Awards Performance in 2018. (Random Comment — Thanks to the black artists that still perform at the BET Awards and other televised black programs for the people. The performances are different. They are for us and by us. It’s just different. As a fan, I appreciate it. Especially when you giving us this kind of life.)

I . Love . Her


Janelle Monáe Official Website — Totally worth the visit. I found it while researching for this article and it is FULL of really cool visuals and videos related to the project. This album is truly a timeless piece of auditory and visual art. Epic.

Following are all the links to my Janelle’s social media. Lmao. Please do check her out if you haven’t heard of her. She is more popular than our last artist, 6LACK, so I will only include major social media and Soundcloud. She’s everywhere. As she should be. <3


Listen to her on SoundCloud

curated by w.d. herstun
Apple Music — I’m getting my money’s worth y’all. Lyrics and cover art always. is a music data lovers best friend. They list the credits on everybody’s stuff almost immediately after release. on the GIF Beat
Shout out to my Australian homies if they read this far down, go check out her Interests, Music & Culture blog — The Good, The Weird.

Published by W.D. Herstun

Editor-in-Chief. Curator. Dreamer. I want to bring people together, one story at a time. Sometimes, we all just need a little perspective. The arts & humanities can help us regain humanity and change the world. Believe that. Achieve that. #LetsGrow

7 thoughts on “Album Review — Dirty Computer — Janelle Monáe

  1. I really like Janelle Monáe. I think she’s really talented, and I personally feel she should be getting a lot more recognition. I’ve heard at least two of the songs on this album. “Pynk” and “I like That”. I love them both!

    1. I know! She’s totally underrated as a songwriter. A true gem. Maybe it’s good she’s not Beyonce big though. Might hurt her… idk, spunk? 🤷🏾‍♀️

      1. Lolzzz. I agree! Her skills or on par with Beyoncé, but maybe it’s best she isn’t as popular as Beyoncé for now! Sometimes that kind of fame can do more harm than good!

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