Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer
Critic Score
Based on 40 reviews
2018 Ratings: #7 / 850
Year End Rank: #1
User Score
2018 Ratings: #45
Liked by 96 people
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The Independent

Dirty Computer is Monáe’s gift to young girls, boys, men, women and non-binary people who are ostracised just for embracing their true selves; to black men and women. It’s a message of love and hope to anyone who fears what is different, but who has capacity to learn and know better. And it’s seemingly a gift to herself, as well.

Taking on sex with an incisive pen - not to mention the biggest songs she’s ever written - Janelle Monáe holds more power than ever, and ‘Dirty Computer’ might just be the record that finally elevates her to pop’s highest echelons.
Throwing in rap, soul, pop, R&B, space-rock and whatever the hell she wants with her fearless message, Janelle Monáe doesn’t believe in walls or limits: this is a fluid celebration of freedom, raging and raving against the oppressors. In fact, only one label sticks – icon.
A.V. Club

On Dirty Computer, the erstwhile Electric Lady loses the metal and circuitry, but none of her power or artistry, cementing her status alongside Prince in the hall of hyper-talented, gender-fluid icons who love and promote blackness.

Pretty Much Amazing
It champions both Monáe and the identity she embraces, an identity which receives visibility and a new idol in one fell swoop. Naturally, an idol as talented as Monáe wears this identity proudly, imbuing it with funk and power pop to match her confidence.
Consequence of Sound

Monáe is, as always, a true master of melding genres, influences, and styles. Her central themes of identity and internal conflict are as tangible on Dirty Computer as they ever have been.

Entertainment Weekly

As a whole, Dirty Computer strikes the perfect balance between joy and sadness, offering a deeply resonant account of Monáe’s personal experiences as a black woman.


With Dirty Computer, Monáe isn't afraid to get political, encourage empathy, explore her sexuality and have goofy fun, often doing all that and more in the same song.


While this is easily the most loaded Monáe album in terms of guests ... there's no doubt that it's a Wondaland product. It demonstrates that artful resistance and pop music are not mutually exclusive.

Northern Transmissions
Bringing in commentary about America and womanhood across her cosmic soul energy, Monáe channels the greats while charting her own course. While she can sometimes let her message override the musical experience, there’s enough talent flying across this record (and the mini companion film no-less) to show that Janelle Monáe is one of the artists that will be taking over the world.
Rolling Stone

In its own way, its as artful, ambitious, determined, joyous and inspiring, as Lemonade or To Pimp a Butterfly. It's a sexy MF-ing masterpiece.


'Dirty Computer' captures the plight of today's outsiders who are fighting back, forming the world to be. Monáe is 10 steps ahead, past the Trump era, embracing the robot-utopia that gives hope to an unprejudiced and equal world. She´s already there - now the rest of us have to catch up.

Under The Radar

Ever since the release of The ArchAndroid, Monáe has been tipped to be a future icon. On Dirty Computer, she finally makes good on her promise, keeping the fearlessness of her earlier albums while refining her focus.

Motivation is the theme along with a mass of girl power threaded in every track to remind men that they aren’t always in charge and a woman’s worth is just as valuable.
Crack Magazine

Typically dense with historical reference points, as well as contemporary interrogations of real-world issues, Dirty Computer is the ecstatic protest album for an era that will keep people pondering its cultural significance for generations to come.

This album is possibly her least musically adventurous, but thematically it’s defiantly bold and generous.
The Observer

The aim here is to rocket-propel Monáe into the mainstream, and on that count Dirty Computer succeeds: it is a juicy, genre-crossing pop record ripe with the funk, which somehow combines Beyoncé’s Lemonade and St Vincent’s Masseduction with lashings of Lauryn Hill.

No Ripcord

Her charisma, coupled with her artful and unique touch, positions her on a more commercial field without the slightest compromise. But the real story of Dirty Computer is how Monáe reveals an autobiographical sketch.

The Needle Drop

Dirty Computer is Janelle Monáe's poppiest album to date, as well as her most deeply sexual and political.

Drowned in Sound

Dirty Computer is yet another example of Monae’s prowess and mastery as well as being perhaps her more important statement to date in terms of addressing contemporary America.

FLOOD Magazine

The record is big and colorful, its production drawing equally from hip-hop’s visceral impact and psychedelia’s strange weather, its pacing perfect and its songs casually bleeding into one another. It works so well as a big-picture record that it’s easy to forgive Monáe for leaving the edges a little fuzzy.


Ushering in a new era of openness for Monáe, Dirty Computer is simultaneously her most confident and intimate offering to date.

Ever the innovator, Janelle Monáe has crafted a singular, youthful pop record that is the culmination of years of silence and deflection in order to one day be free.
Spectrum Culture

Dirty Computer may be the natural climax that started with cyborgs and wolfmasters and robot-human love, and it certainly makes for a stunning moment within the context of Monáe’s previous work. It also stands as an important political-cultural document. Fortunately, it’s also a very good record.


Yes, Dirty Computer falters along the way with a few weak hooks and some questionable lyrics but at least she was able to wipe out the old Monáe and reboot who she’s truly meant to be — both artistically and personally.

Loud and Quiet
As a listener, you come away from the record with a strong grasp of her politics around race, gender and societal inequality ... but little sense of any emotional vulnerability. Still, as complex, agenda-pushing pop goes, ‘Dirty Computer’ is undeniably impressive.
The Line of Best Fit
Given the switch in tone, it feels like Monae is more comfortable in her skin and her sound, but is this a good thing for the music?
Slant Magazine

In shedding her sci-fi persona, Monáe has ended up making a great pop album, and a rallying call for “free-ass motherfuckers” everywhere.

God Is in the TV

This time her lyrics take place in the real world rather than a fictional narrative and with it centralising on what it’s like to be a pansexual African American woman in modern day society, Dirty Computer feels like one of the most significant, insightful and important albums of the year.


Dirty Computer succeeds overall because of it mostly delivers the same elements that made the Metropolis lineage soar.

Tiny Mix Tapes

After navigating complex matrices of identity under an indulgent, accessible veneer, Dirty Computer is ultimately — even “simply” — a cathartic assertion of self in a hostile system.

The Guardian
She is as elusive as ever, and her mystery remains intact. Without a true loosening of her poise, her position on the margins of pop could remain intact as well.
In all seriousness, this album felt like one of those projects that if ANY other female artist came out with, it would be dismissed soooooo fast. The singing is sweet but There are countless lines here that are so eye-squintingly annoying. This is a score from my personal enjoyment. By the end of this thing I felt pandered to and this felt like overhyped critic bait

Edit: I can tolerate 3 songs on this album. Seriously this thing gets next to no enjoyment from me
☆☆☆☆ 1/2

Not many people know this but I'm also a talented and accomplished actor. If you don't believe me you should see me pretending to give a shit about you if you don't think Monáe is one of the greatest artists of all time.

Excuse the pretentiousness!! But who wants a track-by-track review of Dirty Computer to kick off the year?? No???


Well I'm giving it to you anyways you ungrateful clown!!

This is the 3rd studio album by THE Kansas powerhouse, Janelle ... read more
“I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.”

Nearly a decade ago, Kanye West begged us a harrowing question: “who will survive in America?” Although the answer is still unclear, Janelle Monáe subverts the question and demands her own truth, and that truth revolves around her queer, black, and feminist identities. She doesn’t ask who will survive in America because she knows that all Americans should and will survive even in the face of opposition, of ... read more

Ok, I tried writing a paragraph-style review a few times but honestly I'd rather just go track by track.

1. Dirty Computer

Janelle revives Kanye's "Have a famous old white musician play a minimal role on your song" thing from 2015. Between this and Grimes barely on Pynk she's really going Because the Internet on us. The song is nice, but can't seem to reconcile if it wants to be an introduction or a full-length song. I find the fadeout to be a little abrupt, but ... read more
EDIT 04/07/21: Went back to this for the first time since the end of 2018 and fell in love all over again. Pretty comfortable calling it one of the best pop albums of the last decade. Also I am so sorry for calling your album American art, Janelle, you deserve so much better than that.

This is what American art should be. Not some overly-patriotic, heartland portrait of nationalism, but an expression of true personal freedom and self-love. It’s a diverse and passionate mixture of many ... read more
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Added on: February 16, 2018