Published Aug 04, 2019While the artistic polymath known as Janelle Monáe has been touting politically charged pop odes to self-love for over a decade, her latest album, Dirty Computer, is the full realization of her true power as a performer, as a queer woman of colour and as a force for change.
Taking to a white, multi-levelled platform at centre stage to the intro of "Crazy, Classic, Life," which quotes the Declaration of Independence, Monáe, dressed in all black, white and red, launched into the song as her dancers took to the stage looking beautifully and unapologetically black.
Moving into "Screwed" with images of riots and fiery protests raging in the background, Monáe belted "I hear the sirens calling, and the bombs are falling in the streets, we're all screwed" before pulling out water guns to spray the crowd, creating a tongue-in-cheek visual contrast that has become integral to the Monáe experience.
Continuing with "Django Jane" ("let the vagina have a monologue"), "Q.U.E.E.N" ("am I freak for getting down?"), and "Electric Lady" ("gloss on her lip, glass on the ceiling"), each track peppered with Jackson-esque moves, perfectly hit notes, and steady flows in equal measure, Monáe and her expert (mostly female) backing band moved in "PYNK," pulling out the vagina pants for good measure.
Before ending her set with "Tightrope," Monáe spoke directly to the crowd, announcing that "this is a very important time in history," and a "time for us to draw the line." "Thank you for fighting women's rights, for the rights of the LGBTQIA community, for the disabled […] against corruption, the abuse, and abusers of power," she continued, before ending with "black lives do matter" and calling for the immediate impeachment of Donald Trump.