It's no exaggeration to say that Janelle Monáe has made her mark on the entertainment industry by redefining what it means to be a Black woman in music and film. She has set an example for women worldwide, from singing empowering anthems to stealing the spotlight on the silver screen. Janelle Monáe has always followed her unique creative vision, pushing against boundaries with her music and fashion.
Known for her retro-futuristic style and conceptual albums, Janelle Monáe has never been a stranger to trying new, fresh ideas — and now she is taking on the sci-fi genre with a book series titled, The Memory Librarian: and Other Stories of Dirty Computer. Stepping into a literary genre where Black women are not often represented is the kind of artist that Janelle Monáe is.
Janelle Monáe Was Inspired By Her Album “Dirty Computer”
In 2022, Janelle Monáe released, The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer, a collection of short stories inspired by her 2018 album of the same name. The book, which she co-wrote authors Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, Eve L. Ewing, Yohanca Delgado and Sheree Renee Thomas, focuses on queer and Black characters struggling to express their individuality.
“My dream has always been for community to be visible in my work. So, it’s incredible to have been able to sharpen my sword as a writer and present these thought experiments — the what-ifs — and collaborate in the same way that we would with music,” she told Shondaland of her book. “Just like when you have the best bass player, the best keyboard player, the best drummer, and everybody’s writing lyrics. How do we show who we can be and what we can make when we come together?”
Janelle Monae Is an Afrofuturist Icon
Afrofuturism is defined as ”a movement in literature, music, art, etc., featuring futuristic or science fiction themes which incorporate elements of Black history and culture.” For Janelle, her Black culture plays a huge role in her creativity — and her success as an artist and author. “To me, Afrofuturism just is Black folks defining our futures, telling stories about us, for us, showing us thriving, unapologetically," she told CBC Radio. “Through music and through art and through storytelling, we get these architects of these experiences. An experience architect is what I like to consider myself. As we curate these experiences, we bring so many different walks of lives together. And we get an opportunity to use our hearts … to really have a little more compassion for our brothers and sisters."
Janelle Monáe Continues to Push the Envelope
Janelle constantly pushes the envelope of what we expect from music and performance. Her creative approach to her craft has garnered a dedicated fan base who always appreciate her ability to surprise and delight with her artistic choices. Janelle’s embrace of her individuality and refusal to conform to established norms is evident in everything she does, from her music to her fashion style.
Her work serves as a reminder of the importance of individuality and the power of creativity to inspire and break down barriers.