By GK Gurley | Photos Courtesy Janelle Monáe
A queer woman of color selling out a show at Ryman Auditorium is nothing short of radical. Janelle Monáe is currently on tour after her record ‘Dirty Computer’ came out this year.
Her ‘Dirty Computer’ record is her third studio record, and she produced it through her own label, Wondaland Records. With this record, she also released Dirty Computer, the Emotion Picture. ‘Dirty Computer’ is a narrative all about resistance, and her songs have become black, queer and feminist anthems.
She is revolutionary in how she approaches politics and social justice issues with her music. She calls out and discusses politicians and systems of oppression and fearlessly dives into those topics, but she also focuses on empowering her audience. She compels her audience to love and accept themselves, to take care of their community and to fight back. She highlights the oppressions that people of color, queer people and female-identifying people face, and she gives her listeners the empowerment and encouragement they need to fight back and stand up for themselves.
Being a professional actress as well, she’s a theatrical performer. Her Emotion Picture is narratively driven. The characters are in a dystopian world where they are being oppressed and forced to conform, and anyone rebelling against the system has their memory wiped. The structure is brilliant and the music videos are artfully crafted to fit into the larger narrative, as well as be perfect stand-alone pieces.
Not only did she sell out the Ryman on July 13, but she filled a packed house of loving fans at Third Man Records on July 12 for a viewing of her Emotion Picture. Three hundred of us watched the film with her and the writer and director, Chuck Lightning. We cheered, danced, laughed and cried. Being in such an intimate setting and doing a meet-and-greet
Her songs are both romantic and political, and this is a combination we need right now. As great as Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” is, Monáe takes the narrative of highlighting the continued oppression of black people a step further by encouraging her community and promoting activism. Every person needs to not just listen to these songs, but watch these videos.
Her tour continues, and you can find the rest of her dates on her website jmonae.com. (She’ll be back in Tennessee soon, she has two October dates in Memphis!) Don’t miss her show. She is incredible
You can stream her albums on Spotify and Apple Music, and her Emotion Picture is free on her website, Youtube, and Vimeo. Support her work by going to shows, buying merch and records, and telling your friends to listen!