O U T S I D E L E F T   stay i n d e p e n d e n t

Better Than Amazing! Janelle Monae

I'll Give You An Annual Review: Janelle Monae's Dirty Computer at 14

get the weekly Outsideleft newsletter
by Jason Lewis, UK Music Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: December, 2018
Dirty Computer at 14
by Jason Lewis, UK Music Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: December, 2018
Dirty Computer at 14

14.  Dirty Computer - Janelle Monae (Wondaland/Bad Boy/Atlantic)

If we could step aside from all this album reviewing nonsense for one moment and identify just one actual song that brought more joy in 2018, then it's 'Make Me Feel' by Janelle Monae.  

That squelchy, synth intro, her deconstruction of desire and then that powerful chorus ('it's like I'm powerful with a little bit of tender/an emotional sexual bender), and that's all before the Prince-like guitars add to the excitement.  There really is no other competition for single of the year.

'Make Me Feel' was also the calling card for the frankly wonderful (and wonderfully frank), album 'Dirty Computer".  If Monae had hidden behind the android alter ego, Cindi Mayweather beforehand, this was Monae as herself - and it's remarkable.  Once we get past the slightly awkward technical puns of the title track (and yes, that's Brian Wilson singing heavenly harmonies), then the rest of the album is a celebration of her sexuality, gender and race. Albeit set in the shadow repressive Trump regime. 

'Screwed' juxtaposes sexual desires with the relentless stench of getting screwed over in society:  'everything is sex, except sex, which is power...you screw me and I'll screw you too...' It's resistance in the face of constant oppression.  The song segues into the finest moment on the album, the single 'Django Jane'  where she raps and rages against sexism ('...and we're gonna start a motherfucking pussy riot'). It's the album's fiercest moment.  It's staggeringly honest. 

'Dirty Computer' is a brave and confident concept. It is a declaration of defiance in such a distressing era.

not even the best verion of this brilliant song... try this - better than amazing! reggae mix with the Easy All Stars just don't rate her a 6...

see more stories from outsideleft's Music archive »»

Jason Lewis
UK Music Editor

Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.

more stories you really could read...


thumb through the ancient archives:

search for something you might like...


sign up for the outsideleft weekly. a selection of new and archived stories every week. Or less.

View previous campaigns.

The National and the Class Song of the Damned
The lovable, awkward losers in the National find their moment of true grace on High Violet.
McCoy and Meyer
Michelle Williams meets director/production team McCoy and Meyer, they're the Storytellers For Our Time
The Jesus Record, the Hail Mary, and the Arc of the Covenant
The faith of Americana tested by the Avett Brothers, the Black Crowes and the ghost of Big Star
Bernard's Warm Control
Chris Connolly... Bernard's Warm Control is what it is...
STYLE GUIDE FOR THE MODERN CAD
an Odd Pitch #1: Elvis Costello and Lexus
The first of an occasional series of mainly musical pitchmen and their products
Some of our favorite things...