Janelle Monáe has long been one of the most experimental, groundbreaking, and trailblazing artists in contemporary music, and she’s recently in the spotlight again with the release of her third full-length studio album, Dirty Computer. She also released a 48 minute dystopian science-fiction film along with the record and came out as pansexual in a recent Rolling Stone interview. Via Tom and Lorenzo, at the screening of the movie, Monáe treated us even more with this incredible ensemble inspired by Tommy Lee Jones’ iconic Two-Face from Batman Forever.
Twitter inevitably went into–a very deserved–meltdown, as fans realized what Monáe was referencing. But really no one should have been surprised, as Monáe has been trafficking in unbelievable afrofuturist science-fiction since her very first release. Metropolis dropped in 2007 and focused on Cindi, an android in a dystopian future. The title references the Fritz Lang silent classic, which would also become a running theme in her later work. During an interview with MTV, Monáe opened up about her android alter-ego: “Cindi is an android and I love speaking about the android because they are the new ‘other.’ People are afraid of the other and I believe we’re going to live in a world with androids because of technology and the way it advances. The first album she was running because she had fallen in love with a human and she was being disassembled for that.”
Six time Grammy nominee Monáe continued to break new ground with later releases like The ArchAndroid, a sequel to her debut EP which continued the story of Cindi, as she becomes the leader of the android community introduced in Metropolis. Her vision reflected and took from Lang’s seminal work whilst also subverting and expanding on it, adapting the female android archetype into an allegory for marginalized people and what Monáe cited as “the other.” The Electric Lady was presented as a prequel to The ArchAndroid and continued Monáe’s exploration of afrofuturist urban dystopias. And, of course, she’s returned to those same themes with her most recent work; you can watch the Dirty Computer film below. So basically Monáe has been living that sci-fi superhero life for over a decade!
Are you a fan of Monáe’s incredible take on Two-Face? Can’t wait to check out Dirty Computer? Already a huge Monáe fan and shocked it’s taken everyone this long to realize it? Let us know below!
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