Janelle Monae has served up one of the best albums of the year and so far her competition isn’t even close.
Served with visual accompaniment (a la Beyonce mode), Dirty Computer puts Cyndi Mayweather’s story on halt to check in on ‘Jane’, specifically more so Janelle Monae. It’s her most personal record yet even if she’s aided with the futuristic, robotic shimmer which she’s carried throughout her singing career. But gone are the full-blown characters, we’re now in the future through Janelle Monae’s life.
Janelle came out as pansexual, and the album and visual accompaniment displays her sexuality. But it is not Janelle’s sexual orientation which is spellbinding. It is the intimacy, the desire, the action of her sexual soul which is the most intense. ‘Make Me Feel’, ‘I Got That Juice’, ‘Crazy, Classic Life’, ‘Screwed’, ‘Pynk’ and ‘I Like That’ all detail intense affection, sexual confidence, sexual craving, animalistic desire, soft sensuality and sexual pride. These are all traits that are empowering, no matter the sexuality of who is behind them.
On ‘Crazy Classic Life’, Janelle paints out her desire to, well, have a ‘crazy, classic life’ (I know, kill me for being obvious). But the outro paints a picture of how as a black woman, she will be viewed at differently for her experiences versus a white boy. Me and you was friends, but to them, we the opposite/ the same mistake, I’m in jail, you on top of s—-. It reminds me of ‘kids being kids’, yet black kids are systematically blamed more for their crimes. And in these moments, you find yourself thinking more of the present then of Janelle’s future.
Lord Huron - Vide Noir
In French, Vide Noir translates to ‘black void’, a perfect summary of the third album by the wild-western fantasy meets indie band group. A couple of the tracks appear aggressive, while most mourn the loss of a woman who appears to have chosen the black void of some sort of addiction rather then the embrace of her love. The opening, Lost in Space and Time, sets this journey towards finding this ‘emerald star’. And while we see some character development, I would enjoyed a bit more detail on the world that Lord Huron has created. Who is their main character? What is the world around him like? Perhaps the point of the album is to detail that after a breakup with such an adored one, everything is dark and empty.
J. Cole - K.O.D.
I hopped into a truck with my friend Christian and we had a hour to kill for a ride. “Have you heard the new J. Cole album?” He asked, it only being a day after the album had dropped. I said no and he proceeded to play the entire album through. I like J. Cole, having been fans of his earlier work, if not appreciating it. But I was happy to hear that instead of some downtrodden material, J. Cole had come full aggressive, with loud music constructed in multi-dimensions and lyrics covering addiction, heartbreak and even an outro that on the surface is a diss, but comes across as a greater message for any musician. In fact, the outro brings up a great question about black entertainers with white audiences: They wanna be black and think your song is how it feels. Talk about a different sort of addiction.
Kimbra - Primal Heart
I enjoyed Kimbra’s third studio album, although it didn’t have the full fledged punch of her second album, The Golden Hour. I wonder if this is due to Primal Heart’s nature to lean towards commercial pop. A release like this could have done her wonders in 2014 following the success of ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, but this feels like a continuation off previous material then anything else. There are some excellent songs (The Good War, Like They Do on the TV, Lightyears, ) songs you definitely should consider adding to your playlists. Maybe this album will grow on me, but something is leaving me waiting for her next album cycle.
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