Meet Janelle Monae, an American R&B artist who started performing as a child. Born on December 1, 1985, Monae got her biggest breakthrough in 2005 and later signed a deal with P Diddy, Sean Combs. In one of her interviews, she mentions something about living with a father battling drug addiction. Even though she had a rough childhood, she made a name for herself through her talent. Whether you’re hearing about her for the first time or have listened to her songs firsthand, you must wonder which are the 10 best Janelle Monae songs of all time? Here is a compilation from the worst to the best.
10. I Like That
“I Like That” is a controversial song from Janelle Monae released by Nate Rocket and Chuck Lightning. There were rumors of her sexuality, but she uses this song to clarify that she’s a pansexual. So that means she judges a person through their personality rather than their sexual orientation. Best Line: “Sometimes a mystery, sometimes I’m free, depending on my mood and attitude.”
9. “Prime Time” Feat. Miguel
“Prime Time” is a track by Janelle Monae featuring Miguel, released in 2013 as a third single. With producers like Nate “Rocket” Wonder on board, you can’t help but marvel at the duet’s talent in music. Also, the song’s official video shows Monae donning a striped dress with a black and white bomber jacket. If this song doesn’t send shivers down your spine, no other song will. Best Line: “Tick-tock, I’m watching the clock; I can’t wait till we get to rock.”
8. Make Me Feel
The third studio album from Monae is “Dirty Computer,” and one of the songs featured is “Make Me Feel.” The track was released in February 2018 with the help of Mattman and Robin as the main producers and written by yours truly and Julia Michaels. If you listen closely to the lyrics of this track, you will notice how emotional Monae is. She expresses her eternal love to her lover in this funky song. Best Line: “Baby, don’t make me spell it out for you, All the feelings that I’ve got for you.”
7. Django Jane
The film “Django Unchained” portrays Quentin Tarantino slavery, played by Jamie Foxx. It is no surprise that a song with almost a similar title will emerge. Which other person knows how to sing about the struggles Afro-American citizens faced than Janelle Monae. Her song “Django Jane” is female empowerment-inspired as it portrays the enslaved black community. It was released in 2018 by Nate “Rocket” Wonder as her second single. Best Line: “Let’s get caught downtown in the whirlwind and paint the city pink.”
6. QUEEN Feat. Erykah Badu
According to Biography, Erykah Badu is one of the musicians who held Janelle Monae’s hand, alongside Sean “PDiddy” Combs. The duo’s first album worked on together was “The Electric Lady.” The album features a track like Q.U.E.E.N (an abbreviation for “Queer, Untouchables, Emigrants, Excommunicated, and Negroid”). It is no wonder this album ranked fifth on the Billboard 200. Best Line: “I can’t believe everything they say about me, walk in the room they throwing shade left to right.”
5. Tightrope Feat. Big Boi
“Tightrope” by R&B singer Janelle Monae was released in 2010 with producers Nate Wonder and Chuck Lightning. The track is an expression of balance in life. In one of her interviews, she mentions something about struggling to fit into the music industry. Also, she says that to be successful in anything you do, your ropes don’t need to be too tight or loose. When you get praised a lot, watch your steps. The same applies to when no one notices your struggles. Best Line: “Some people talk about ya like they’re all about ya.”
4. Cold War
When Artist Direct interviewed Monae about “Cold War,” she pointed out that it’s about Arch Android. She believes that Arch Android has existed for centuries in Metropolis, yet people thought otherwise. The feature depicts freedom and a beacon of lost hope, something she realized about herself through the project. So you know, this track is her second single from her debut studio album, “The Arch Android.” Best Line: “I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me, and it hurts my heart.”
3. Many Moons
Like “Django Jane,” “Many Moons” is a critique song explaining the oppression of people in Western civilization. The track is more problem-solving than creating. Upon checking the song’s video, you might notice Monae acting in a short film at the Annual Android Auction in Metropolis. The song portrays enslaved people using the Underground Railroad in the 19th century. Though enslaved people seem happy leaving their masters, they know they aren’t entirely free deep down. Best Line: “We’re dancing free, but we’re stuck here underground, and everybody trying to figure their way out.”
2. Yoga Feat. Jidenna
Did you know that yoga dates back 5,000 years and is associated with Hindus? It involves disconnecting your physical senses from eternal objects to submit to a higher being. It is no surprise that Monae felt inspired by this long-standing practice in her “Yoga” track which came to the limelight in March 2015. Unlike traditional yoga, which requires a serene environment, this track defies its perception. Best Line: “Let yo booty do that yoga.”
1. Dance or Die
The “Best Song” award by Janelle Monae goes to “Dance or Die.” You already know of Janelle as the queen of metaphoric lyrics. Don’t take the lyrics to this song literally. The real meaning of “dance” is to “conform,” while “die” means being an outcast of society. In short, she’s giving everyone the chance to decide what they want to be in life but be ready for the outcome.
In every interview Janelle attends, she likes to talk about her rough childhood. She watched her father battle drug addiction, and instead of joining the vice, she did the opposite. While critics have always had something negative to say about her songs, it’s clear that she speaks for everyone. Already, she knows how tough it is trying to navigate life as an African American, but through education, emancipation is inevitable.