Quoted: Janelle Monáe on Music and Being The Other

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

Janelle Monae

“My mother was a janitor, my father drove a trash truck and my stepfather still works at the post office.  So I grew up with a family determined to make something out of nothing by working very hard,” says Monáe. “They inspired me to follow my dreams, to create music for the working men and women who are coming up against life’s obstacles and need to be uplifted.  Music found me – this was my purpose.  So when I was 11 years old, I sat my parents down and told them what I wanted to do and that they must all get on board.” […]

Heavily inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 German expressionist film Metropolis, which used an urban dystopia to berate capitalism, she too has invented a not-too-distant future in order to comment on the confines within she is expected to perform and present herself as a black female artist. “As an African-American woman, as an immigrant, wherever I am, I’m always the minority,” she explains.  “So I came up with the concept of the android as the ‘other’ in society.  I’ve been studying the theory of technological singularity, which predicts that as advances in technology become faster, there will come a point when robots will be able to map out the brainpower of humans and recreate our emotions.  I’m posing the question – how are we going to live with the ‘other’?  Are we going to treat them inhumanely, teach our children to fear them?”

—“Watch This Space,” Arise Magazine, Issue 11

(Image Credit: Arise/Matthew Brodie)




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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

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  • http://gauchesinister.wordpress.com/ Gauche

    <3 like whoa

  • Pingback: Quoted: Janelle Monáe on Music and Being The Other | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture « SAR_4_5201()

  • http://gossamercy.wordpress.com/ gossamercy

    I adore Janelle Monae! I saw her in concert back in November when she toured with of Montreal and it was one of my best experiences ever. She’s such an inspiration and so talented.

  • Ladyrindy

    LOVE HER!!! One of the most talented women to come in a long time. I want nothing but the best for her!

  • Hepburn

    She is stellar and so talented! : ) Love her art!

  • Anonymous

    She’s just incredibly awesome. Thanks for posting this!

  • fangirl

    I love her so much!!! I want everyone to listen to her music, love what she wears and why, and listen to all the awesome stuff she has to say!

  • Charle

    I love JMoane so much. Everything she says is truth, and I love that she’s a strong, determined black woman…now if only people would pay more attention to her!

  • http://DeadAmericanDream.blogspot.com AngryBroomstick

    She will always be so much more inspirational than Lady Gaga who came from a privileged background and never had to work hard to make it big.

  • Peter

    She is the best.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful, talented and brilliant – I wonder what wonderful things she will accomplish during her career!