Janelle Monae’s new 44-minute “emotion picture” for “Dirty Computer” will premiere on MTV and BET on April 26, the companies announced. Monae’s album will be released the following day. (View the trailer below.)
The film, which co-stars Tessa Thompson (“Thor,” “Selma,” Westworld”) is described in a press release as “the story of a young woman named Jane 57821 (Janelle Monae), who is living in a totalitarian near-future society where citizens are referred to as ‘computers.’ … ‘Dirty Computer’ explores humanity and what truly happens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when mind and machines merge, and when the government chooses fear over freedom.” It was produced by Monae and directed by Andrew Donoho and Chuck Lightning, and features collaborations with video directors Alan Ferguson, Emma Westenberg and Lacey Duke.
The singer has already released four songs and three eye-popping videos from the album: the rapped “Django Jane” and the Prince-channeling “Make Me Feel” in February, followed by “Pynk” and “I Like That.” “Make Me Feel,” directed by Alan Ferguson, is an obvious homage to Prince, evoking his 1986 chart-topper “Kiss” both musically and in the video: One segment obviously recalls the dance segment in Prince’s video, and another features her wearing a chain facemask similar to the one he wore in the 1992 “My Name Is Prince” clip. And “Django Jane,” which features Monae’s fiercely on-point rapping, is “a powerful black girl magic womanifesto that celebrates the strength of black women and black culture while addressing the trials and tribulations of identity in the 21st Century.”
In the five years since Monae’s last album, she’s toured, landed star-making acting appearances in “Hidden Figures” and Oscar Best Picture “Moonlight,” launched her Wondaland label (home to Jidenna, St. Beauty and others) and gave a rousing #TimesUp-themed speech at the Grammy Awards last month — and the new album is no exception. “Dirty Computer” will also feature a “narrative film project” that will air in select theaters nationwide before screenings of “Black Panther.” (She released a teaser video for it a few weeks ago.)