Judging by the music videos, Janelle Monáe’s new album Dirty Computer isn’t exactly going for subtle — and wow, we are blessed.
After releasing dueling videos in late February for the Prince-esque jam “Make Me Feel” and the take-no-shit rap “Django Jane,” Monáe released a third video on Tuesday for “Pynk,” which takes some of the subtext of those first two videos and releases it into the desert for a joyous coming-out party.
More specifically: “Pynk” is about as queer a music video as they come. Monáe, flanked entirely by women, sings about loving the “pink, like the inside of your [wink], baby,” or like “the tongue going down (maybe).” She and her backup dancers wear voluminous pink pants that, when opened, reveal layers of ruffles that deliberately echo vaginas. At one point, actor Tessa Thompson — Monáe’s friend and long-rumored partner, who also co-starred in her videos for “Make Me Feel” and “Yoga” — bursts out from between Monáe’s pant legs with a Cheshire cat grin.
As the video’s description puts it: “‘Pynk’ is a brash celebration of creation. self love. sexuality. and pussy power! PYNK is the color that unites us all, for pink is the color found in the deepest and darkest nooks and crannies of humans everywhere...”
The jaw-dropping visuals and words that Monáe, collaborator Grimes, and director Emma Westenberg put together for “Pynk” directly call back to themes introduced in Dirty Computer’s first two singles. In “Django Jane,” Monáe rapped about wanting to “paint the city pink.” In “Make Me Feel,” she danced as a woman thrilled to be caught between Thompson and an intrigued man — before ultimately deciding, what the hell, why not both?
“Pynk” takes elements from both to become a jam as defiant as it is smooth, imagining a world in which men either don’t exist or don’t particularly matter. It is worth pointing out that this kind of “pussy power” does tend to exclude trans women, and we could always stand to think harder about how to include all forms of womanhood in such feminist celebrations. But given how some male artists have called upon similar imagery and entendres to define women entirely by their body parts, it’s still refreshing to watch Monáe remix the sentiment to be empowering rather than reductive.
Dirty Computer, Monáe’s first studio album since 2012’s Electric Lady, will be released April 27. Monáe is promising that it will also come in the form of an “emotion picture,” and while I can’t say I know exactly what that means, I can safely say based on the glimpses these videos give us that we’re in for a funky, queer-as-hell treat.