Monáe wears her influences on her sleeve – more specifically the sleeves of her many Grace Jones-style tuxedos. There’s no rhyme or reason to disguising obvious inspiration; Monáe owns it. Her previous, The Electric Lady, saw cratedigging fantasies spill onto the tracklisting; hear Erykah Badu, Miguel, Solange, and the likes featured. Oh, Prince too.
And she’s not finished with the late icon yet. Prince reportedly gifted a futuristic groove to this fresh lead single, ‘Make Me Feel’, which rings true once two bars have passed and there’s the sudden urge to start sashaying between lovers like a bad bitch. This thing runs as a transparent, yet thick, saucy, homage to 1986’s ‘Kiss’ – though not nearly as phoned-in as that may sound. Monáe flaunts her bisexuality in both lyrics and video: “Good God! I can’t help it! Agh! / That’s just the way that I feel, yeah”, she belts sashaying back and forth, torn between two dancers in the music video, man and woman both. Sexual identity, equality, integrity, freedom, and synonyms of the sort should ideally mingle phatically. But Monáe susses a rift.
“People have got to start respecting the vagina”, she stated in what might as well have been a line spat on this phenomanal second track, ‘Django Jane’, but was instead noted in a past sitdown with Marie Claire. The sentiment does translate, certainly more ferociously, to certain lines of the song; digest the reference in “And we gon’ start a motherfuckin’ pussy riot / Or we gon’ have to put ‘em on a pussy diet”, tear off that tuxedo, and have a go imagining what a woman-wide sex strike might do to the world.
Janelle Monáe’s third LP, Dirty Computer, is set to land 27 April, on Wondaland / Sony. Stay tuned.