Speaking in a new interview, the singer-and-actress shared that she contemplated whether or not to carry on with recording the acclaimed LP.
She said that she was worried it might “embolden” the groups of “white supremacists and neo-Nazis going around to little black kids’ birthday parties and holding up the Confederate flag,” when US president Donald Trump was elected, as there are songs on the album that speak out against “racism” and “xenophobia.”
“It was one of the first times I felt very afraid,” she told NPR. “There was a lot going on in the country during that time and I didn’t know if this was going to embolden them, at the time, to do something to people like me who were speaking out against racism and sexism and xenophobia and Islamophobia, and everything that they represent. I just didn’t know.”
She continued: “So I started to just have anxiety attacks about it, and I’m thankful I didn’t let that stop me, because I think what that album represented, especially one of my songs, ‘Americans’, … deals with that. It deals with how I’m not going to back down and we’re not going to back down and become silent and quiet and watch this president tear this country apart and tear down the people that helped build this country.
“My ancestors built this country. They helped build the White House. And so that just says: I’m American and you will never take that away from me. And we’re not running, we’re not hiding. We’re not allowing you to dominate us.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Monáe discussed working with Prince on some of the tracks on ‘Dirty Computer’ before his death in 2016.
“[He] was working with me on ‘Dirty Computer’ before he transitioned on,” Monáe said. “Prince was helping, sending me song inspirations and we were going back and forth.
“And so when he transitioned on, I felt that I had to continue to finish that album. And I was always asking myself, ‘What would Prince do?’ in these moments whenever I couldn’t figure out a lyric or music or instrumentation or melody.”
Earlier this year, Janelle Monaé revealed that she identifies as non-binary.
The singer-songwriter publicly declared her gender fluidity on Twitter after quoting a tweet that featured a non-binary meme.
GLAAD and The Human Rights Campaign promoted the Twitter hashtag #IAmNonbinary as a way to increase non-binary visibility and to correct misconceptions associated with the term, as Out reports.
On the same day, Monaé quote-tweeted a pro-gender fluidity meme along with the hashtag #IAmNonbinary.