Quietly, in the wee hours as Sunday became Monday, Janelle Monae dropped “I Like That,” the fourth song from her forthcoming album “Dirty Computer,” which is due on April 27. The four tracks are strikingly different from each other — this one is almost a self-empowerment ballad, with an easy groove and lyrics that look back on being mocked in school. Elements of two of the previously released songs — the rapped “Django Jane” and the Prince-channeling “Make Me Feel” — arise in the middle of “I Like That,” when Monae raps in a voice that recalls Prince, addressing an unnamed person from her school days who called her “weird” and “rated me a six” — “Even back then, with tears in my eyes,” she recalls, “I always knew I was the sh–.”
Unlike the other three songs, “I Like That” is not yet accompanied by a video. Last week Monae dropped a spectacularly unsubtle video along with her song “Pynk,” which features Janelle and her dancers in a desert setting, working a theme based around, er, a part of the female anatomy that was expressed in the video for “Django Jane” released in February.
The singer/actress doesn’t do anything by half — in the five years since her last album, she’s toured, landed star-making acting appearances in “Hidden Figures” and Oscar Best Picture “Moonlight,” launched her Wondaland label (home to Jidenna, St. Beauty and others) and gave a rousing #TimesUp-themed speech at the Grammy Awards last month — and the new album is no exception. “Dirty Computer” will also feature a “narrative film project” that will air in select theaters nationwide before screenings of “Black Panther.” (She released a teaser video for it a few weeks ago.)
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