The Red Ledger

Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

%22Underlying+the+extended+metaphor+of+a+virus-ridden+piece+of+technology%2C+Monae+provides+a+wide+range+of+politically+charged+rap%2C+balladry%2C+and+grand+sequences+that+bear+vivid+resemblances+to+that+of+stadium+pop.%22

"Underlying the extended metaphor of a virus-ridden piece of technology, Monae provides a wide range of politically charged rap, balladry, and grand sequences that bear vivid resemblances to that of stadium pop."

Photo courtesy of Kicks to the Pitch

Photo courtesy of Kicks to the Pitch

"Underlying the extended metaphor of a virus-ridden piece of technology, Monae provides a wide range of politically charged rap, balladry, and grand sequences that bear vivid resemblances to that of stadium pop."

Noah Van Hooser, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Pop music has historically extended well-intentioned but vague platitudes toward communities of America in dire need of empowerment. Following up a duo of concept records, 2010’s “The ArchAndroid” and 2013’s “The Electric Lady,” pop’s most cutting-edge star Janelle Monae offers a refreshingly liberating set of neo-soul and alternative R&B on “Dirty Computer.” Amidst a soundscapes Michael Jackson-esque synth melodies and elements of psychedelic soul, Monae unites boundary-pushing pop structures with intricate lyrical passages which highlight a particular strain of femininity and pansexuality in America.

Underlying the extended metaphor of a virus-ridden piece of technology, Monae provides a wide range of politically charged rap, balladry, and grand sequences that bear vivid resemblances to that of stadium pop. The guest list in which Monae brings on board offers an array of notable musical personas who bring their own distinctive stature and prestige to the cutting table. Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame shows up on the introductory title track, providing an endearingly memorable harmony and melody. Art pop and electronica oddball Grimes steps in for “Pynk,” a cut which instilled a lasting impression since its release as a single, offering guest vocals on the pre-chorus and chorus as well as a promotion of female unity. Much of the girl-power themes underlying the album, however, progress beyond common motifs of femininity to unearth a scope of queerness, particularly of same-sex attraction. Pharrell Williams also contributes on “I Got the Juice,” though the song at large stands out as a relatively underwhelming installment, both sonically and lyrically. Even R&B legend Stevie Wonder steps in on a spoken-word interlude which examines the various religions’ common integration with love.

Monae’s discography has showcased a relentless fascination with funk, borrowing synth-melodies that Michael Jackson could appreciate. Said funk and accompanying groove is tastefully derivative of Prince as well, who worked alongside Monae on the album up until his tragic death in 2016. Many instrumentals across the record coincide with anthemic musical ideals, including “Crazy, Classic, Life” with its pronounced inclusion of guitar and bass. “Django Jane” delivers pristine string arrangements of violin and viola, while “Don’t Judge Me” delivers similarly cerebral movements between violin and cello on what functions as a psychedelic ballad of sorts. In juxtaposition to hard-hitting beats and synthesizer melodies, Monae’s dabbling into more organic, orchestral instrumentation is a welcome addition that provides a nearly ethereal element to the album, a sobering presence among a slew of bustling rhythms.

What separates Monae from her mainstream contemporaries are the political themes she addresses in such a heady fashion. The second track initiates this approach with an excerpt of MLK reciting a section of the United States’ Declaration of Independence as means to expose the ironic nature of women and slaves’ lack of representation. Feminist influence makes multiple appearances, borrowing heavily from mythological, feminine stories of empowerment including the Queen of Sheba, Ethiopian Bilquis, and Eve from the Book of Genesis. In a similar vein, nods to a Russian female protest punk band take further digs at patriarchy.

Pop music would take on an entirely different role in the sphere of entertainment if today’s stars experimented with accessibility as boldly as Monae. “Dirty Computer” is a continuation of the insight and stylistic flair exemplified on her first two records, but makes improvements on every observable front. Hopefully, Monae’s self-proclaimed “glitches” will give new meaning to society’s expected “proper coding.”  

 

Grade: A-  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Writer
Noah Van Hooser, TRL Reporter

Noah Van Hooser is a senior who is excited for his third year on The Red Ledger’s staff. He is passionate about bringing the Lucas community relevant stories centered around Lovejoy athletics, as well as dropping his opinion on new music. For those times when Noah is not working hard on a new article, he finds amusement in playing Nintendo and/or putting on a New Order record. He lives in a family of four with his mom, dad, and sister, who is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. Noah is eager to attend the University of Texas at Austin next fall, where he will study philosophy in hopes of eventually becoming a professor. Noah is always open to having discussions about music, culture, or even the universe at large. Noah, above all else, is looking forward to making contributions to The Red Ledger this year and make strides in his journalistic ability.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

The Red Ledger values the opinion of its readers and encourages them to discuss its content. All comments are subject to approval by The Red Ledger staff. The Red Ledger does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments. Comments are reviewed as often as possible. Comments with inappropriate content will not be published. Once submitted, comments become the property of The Red Ledger. To see our full Comment Policy, visit https://www.theredledger.net/about-us/policies/

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

    A&E

    Review: ‘Venom’ needs less backstory, more action

  • Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

    A&E

    Review: ‘Predator’ provides nonsensical and sluggish plot

  • Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

    A&E

    Playlist: Sounds of autumn

  • Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

    A&E

    Coffee creamery

  • Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

    A&E

    Review: ‘Searching’ includes complex characters and realistic mystery

  • Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

    A&E

    Review showdown: ‘To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before’

  • Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

    A&E

    Review: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ inspires pride in heritage

  • Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

    A&E

    TRL to host Taylor Swift concert ticket giveaway

  • Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

    A&E

    Review: Force not with ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

  • Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks

    A&E

    Review: ‘Deadpool 2’ provides crude humor and innovation

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School
Review: ‘Dirty Computer’ offers refreshingly liberating tracks