Dirty Computer

Album: Dirty Computer (2018)
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  • The opening track and title track of Janelle Monáe's fourth studio album, this song introduces the idea of a "Dirty Computer." The Kansas-born singer explained the concept behind the album during an interview with Ebro Darden of Beats 1:

    "So you know we come from dirt and when we transition out we'll go back to dirt. I believe our spirits will go elsewhere after that. I think it came to me in a dream that we are computers. We are CPUs - our brains - we're uploading/downloading - we're transmitting - passing back and forth information… and with all computers you got your bugs you got your viruses right? Now there are some computers that may already come with bugs and viruses. Are those negatives? Are those positives? Are those features or not?

    It's a conversation that I want to have with us as a society as human beings about what it means to tell somebody that the way they're programmed - their existence - whether they're queer, LGBTQ, IA, in that community - whether they are minorities, whether they're bugs or viruses, whether being a woman, whether being poor, makes you have bugs and viruses. What is it like to live in a society that is constantly trying to cleanse you, and tell you that you need to conform you need to be reprogrammed, deprogrammed. And so I just wanted to talk about my own bugs and viruses, and how I'm choosing to deal with it. You know, how I'm choosing to resist that whole notion because Dirty Computers don't see those bugs and viruses as negatives. Those are things that make them unique and it's about embracing those things that make you unique even if it makes others uncomfortable."
  • Monáe wants to help listeners gain the courage to be dirty computers too. She told Rolling Stone:

    "I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you. This album is for you. Be proud."
  • The track features background vocals by Beach Boy legend Brian Wilson. Matt Jardine, who is the son of another Beach Boy founding member Al Jardine, contributes as well. Janelle Monáe explained the collaboration to Billboard:

    "When I wrote Dirty Computer, I'd always heard Brian Wilson's voice because I was really inspired by the Beach Boys' 'In My Room.' When I found out they had literally recorded their harmonies in their room because they didn't want to wake up their parents, well, I just loved that story. I also just thought that was the kind of vocal energy I wanted on the opening track. 'Dirty Computer' is a very introspective song - it's almost like you're inside of my mind when I'm singing it."
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