Janelle Monae returned this week with two new singles, “D’Jango Jane” and “Make Me Feel” off her forthcoming concept album, “Dirty Computer,” an album which is poised to build upon her previous universes with a sharper, more focused and ambitious world-building.
On “D’Jango Jane,” Monae reads off her decade-long resume, flexing along the way as she sings, “We ain’t hidden no more, moonlit nigga, lit nigga/ Already got an Oscar for the casa,”
in reference to two successful films she’s acted in, “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight.” Her mainstream success has not erased the memory of her earlier days, quipping, “Remember when they said I looked too manish?”
“Make Me Feel,” the better of the two songs, confesses a secret with no need to be said. The opening lines are a flirty taunt, “Baby, don’t make me spell it out for you/ All of the feelings that I’ve got for you.” Endless speculation around Monae’s sexuality has pestered the artist. This feeling of knowing Monae’s sexuality in the video is dramatized, draped in campy glamour as she comedically runs from woman to man, unable to choose. The climax is Monae’s two lovers surrendering to Monae’s inner feeling. It does not have to be verbalized but felt through color — blue and magenta, colors of the bisexual flag, light Monae throughout the video.
The highest priest of neon-lit erotica, Prince, posthumously provides the synth line for the track. The song features a nod to a “Controversy”-era Prince, with its slinky and cool guitar licks soundtracking feelings — like Monae’s — that override logic. The pre-chorus builds and fizzles with anticipation till it spirals into a metronomic glide candied by Monae’s coos. Feeling could be the glitch in the forthcoming visual album, “Dirty Computer.” It is a glitch that need not be corrected but indulged.