Janelle Monáe Robinson, known professionally as Janelle Monáe, is an American singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer, actor, author, and model.
Born on December 1, 1985 in Kansas City, Kansas, Monáe had always dreamed of being a performer on the stage as a child. She left Kansas for New York to study theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. At first, Monáe aimed to become a performer on Broadway, but she changed her mind and went to music instead, feeling that music has the power to change the world.
Later on, Monáe moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she met Big Boi from Outkast and founded the Wondaland Arts Society. Big Boi introduced Monáe to Sean "P Diddy" Combs, which led her to be signed to Bad Boy Records in 2006, and she later moved to Epic Records in 2015 forming her own label, Wondaland Records, which has since signed a number of other artists.
With few exceptions, Monáe's output is within the Afrofuturist genre. All of her major releases are Concept Albums that address subjects such as discrimination, racism, feminism, LGBT rights and self-liberation using futuristic sci-fi settings. The Chase, The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady tell the story of the futuristic dystopia of Metropolis, starring Cindi Mayweather, a popular musician android and prototype for the equally popular, mass-produced Alpha Platinum 3000 droid model. Cindi falls in love with a human named Anthony Greendown and finds a bounty placed on her head as a result. Her album Dirty Computer and its accompanying film (or "emotion picture") tells a different narrative but with similar themes, starring Jane 57821 (played by Monáe) who rebels with her lovers Zen and Ché against the violently conformist expectations of a totalitarian society.
Monáe is pansexual and nonbinary, stating that she uses she/her and they/them pronouns. She's also practiced polyamory.
- The Audition (2003) note
- Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) (2008)
- The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) (2010)
- The Electric Lady (Suites IV & V) (2013)
- Dirty Computer (2018)
- The Age of Pleasure (2023)
- "Many Moons" (2008)
- "Tightrope" (2010)
- "Cold War" (2010)
- "We Are Young" (featured with fun.) (2012)
- "Q.U.E.E.N." (2013)
- "Dance Apocalyptic" (2013)
- "PrimeTime" (featuring Miguel) (2013)
- "Electric Lady" (2014)
- "Yoga" (featuring Jidenna) (2015)
- "Venus Fly" (featured with Grimes) (2017)
- "Make Me Feel" (2018)
- "Django Jane" (2018)
- "PYNK" (2018)
- "I Like That" (2018)
- "Lipstick Lover" (2023)
- Rio 2 (2014) as Dr. Monae (voice)
- Moonlight (2016) as Teresa
- Hidden Figures (2016) as Mary Jackson
- Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams in "Autofac" as Alice
- Welcome to Marwen (2018) as Julie
- UglyDolls (2019) as Mandy (voice)
- Disney's Lady And The Tramp (2019) as Peg (voice)
- Harriet (2019) as Marie Buchanon
- Antebellum (2020) as Veronica Henley/Eden
- Homecoming (2020) as Jackie (lead role in Season 2)
- Glass Onion (2022) as Cassandra "Andi" Brand and Helen Brand
- The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer (2022) (with Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, and Sheree Renée Thomas)
May these tropes reach your heart:
- Aborted Arc: Instead of consisting of the sixth and seventh suites of the "Metropolis" series, Dirty Computer drops all references to Cindi Mayweather and focuses on a new alter ego called Jane. (A resumption of Metropolis at some point in the future has not been ruled out, however, so this may be more a case of Delayed Arc than Aborted Arc.)
- Advertised Extra: She is credited as a feature on fun.'s "We Are Young", but she sings only 4 lines that are almost obscured by the background vocals. She is more noticeably featured in the video, but she only appears for about 20 seconds.
- Afrofuturism: Uses futuristic and android imagery to discuss contemporary issues faced by the African-American community.
- Agony of the Feet: "57821" describes Anthony looking for Cindi until "his feet became bloody and tired".
- Album Intro Track: All of her releases since The Chase have them. Unusually for this trope, Diry Computer's is also its title track. The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady arguably have two - one for each half of the album.
- All Part of the Show: The only people that suspect something is wrong when Cindi has a seizure in the "Many Moons" video are Lady Maestra and 6ix Savage.
- All There in the Manual: The full story of Dance Apocalyptic.
- Alter-Ego Acting: Janelle Monáe's character, Cindi Mayweather, not to mention her many sisters and various other characters she plays in videos.
- Ambiguously Bi: Due to the bisexual themes in much of her work, earlier on in her career, Monáe was repeatedly questioned about her sexuality, and never gave a firm answer, instead saying that both women and men are "wonderful", and that she "only date[s] androids, because they don’t cheat on you". Averted as of 2018, after she publicly came out as pansexual."I keep my personal life very much to myself. I want everybody to focus on my music. I also don’t want to let anybody down. I want women to still be attracted to me. Go get my album! I want men to still be attracted to me so I have to be political in this. So I can’t really tell y’all!"
- Ambiguous Ending: Although Dirty Computer ends with the three lovers escaping the facility, it's unknown if Zen and Jane actually got their memories and identities back somehow, or are still mindwiped but inspired to rebellion. The Memory Librarian reveals that Jane at least hung on to enough of her memories that she could get them safely to the Pynk Hotel, a rebel commune.
- Ambiguously Human: Cindi Mayweather. She is very human-like, despite being an android.
- Arc Number: 57821, which is Cindi's serial number. It also appears as Monáe patient number at the Palace of the Dogs Asylum in the "Tightrope" video, and is used as the title of a song on The ArchAndroid. The number reappears in the Dirty Computer emotion picture as Janelle's patient number in the cleansing house.
- Ax-Crazy: Her song "Come Alive" plays this trope straight.
- Badass Cape: Appears frequently in her live performances.
- Baroque Pop: She could be considered a particularly unique modern example; her music certainly utilises many pop conventions, and the melodic hooks are always a central focus of her music, but the unusual, often complicated arrangements of her songs take her far from conventional pop territory. Songs like "BabopbyeYa", "Don't Judge Me", and "Say You'll Go" are particularly relevant examples here.
- Bifauxnen: In her ArchAndroid days, at least. She adopts a more conventionally feminine look for her singles after "Q.U.E.E.N."
- Black Cloak: The Punk Prophets and the guards at the Palace of the Dogs Asylum.
- Bookends: Given that "Dirty Computer" is essentially an Album Intro Track, its eponymous album is arguably bookended by Reverend Sean McMillan's "love sermon", which opens "Crazy, Classic, Life" and appears again near the end of "Americans".
- Bounty Hunter: The Metropolis government sends several after Cindi.
- But Now I Must Go: Near the end of "BaBopByeYa".I see beyond tomorrow
This life of strife and sorrow
My freedom calls and I must go!
- The Cameo: The "Many Moons" video features appearances by Big Boi as Sir Luscious Leftfoot and Deep Cotton as the Punk Prophets; both of these artists are featured on songs in The ArchAndroid.
- Chainsaw GoodThe droid control marshals are full of fun rules today—no phasers, only chainsaws and electro-daggers!
- The Chosen One: Cindi is the ArchAndroid, whatever that means.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Janelle claims to be a time traveller, and other such whimsical antics.
- Concept Album: From the very beginning, it seems. The Audition generally doesn't adhere to the concept, but "Metropolis", for example, has ties to the Cindi Mayweather plot.
- Cool Crown: The ArchAndroid cover has her wearing one that looks like an Art Deco, Zeerust city. Apparently, it's the Archandroid's Crown, a magitek headdress built by a half-human, half-elf, mystical genius scientist by the name of Zoman Ignatius, who built it after it had been prophesied to be worn by the ArchAndroid in the future. Unfortunately, it was stolen many years later, and eventually lost after it was whisked away into the underground. Replicas have been popping up ever since, and one of them just happened to fall into the hands of Janelle Monáe in our time.
- Cool Shades: Here you go.◊
- Costume Porn: "Many Moons" features an auction of several specialized Alpha Platinum 3000s, and as such, Monáe in several different outfits.
- Cover Version:
- Cozy Catastrophe: "Dance Apocalyptic" encourages the listener to "dance until the end", "laugh at the zombie in the front yard", etc.
- Dancing Is Serious Business: "Dance Or Die".
- Deader than Dead: Whichever bounty hunter catches Cindi must turn her cybersoul in to the Star Commission, presumably so that this trope can be carried out.
- Dissonant Serenity: The announcer in "March of the Wolfmasters", as mentioned below under Faux Affably Evil.
- Do Androids Dream?: The drama track that opens The Chase, "March of the Wolfmasters", indicates that androids have "cybersouls". The Trope Namer is also referenced in "Make the Bus".
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the original script for Dance Apocalyptic, one newspaper reads: "ANDROIDS WANT YOUR JOB !"
- Double Standard: Her rap at the end of "Crazy, Classic, Life" discusses this in regards to race, noting that she and her white friend(s) received very different consequences for being young and rebellious:Me and you was friends, but to them, we the opposite
The same mistake, I'm in jail, you on top of shit
You living life while I'm walking around moppin' shit
Tech kid, backpack, now you a college kid
All I wanted was to break the rules like you
All I wanted was someone to love me too
But no matter where it was I always stood out
Black Waldo dancing with the thick brows
- The End of the World as We Know It: "Dance Apocalyptic" features lyrics about "dancing to the end" and the video is interrupted by a news broadcast reporting on various major U.S. cities being destroyed by disasters.
- Epic Rocking: If we only count single tracks, "BabopbyeYa" is 8:48, "Don't Judge Me" is 6:04, and "Say You'll Go" is 6:01. However, a lot of her tracks really count as movements of longer songs. Not all the examples in Fading into the Next Song below could be considered to count for this trope, but a few ("Dance or Die" → "Faster" → "Locked Inside", "Jane's Dream" → "Screwed" → "Django Jane") almost certainly could.
- Epiphanic Prison: Shown in the song "Many Moons".You're free but in your mind, your freedom's in a bind...
- Erotic Eating: Done briefly with a lollipop in the video for "Make Me Feel".
- Evil Brit: One of the two "cleaners" in the Dirty Computer emotion picture, though he's the more hesitant of the two.
- Expecting Someone Taller: She's 5'0" (152 cm).
- Fading into the Next Song: She loves this trope, to the point where some albums use this far more often than clean breaks between songs. Metropolis: The Chase Suite only employs this trope between "Violet Stars Happy Hunting!" and "Many Moons" (which together reach 8:41), but after that... *deep breath*
- The ArchAndroid:
- "Overture II" → "Dance or Die" → "Faster" → "Locked Inside" (13:21). "Overture II" can be considered somewhat separate from the others, but if you weren't listening for the transitions between the latter three, you wouldn't even notice them.
- "Cold War" → "Tightrope" (7:46)
- "Neon Gumbo" → "Oh, Maker" (5:25)
- "Overture III" → "Neon Valley Street" → "Make the Bus" → "Wondaland" (12:48; note that there's something of a Fake-Out Fade-Out close to the end of "Neon Valley Street", though)
- The Electric Lady (not counting interludes, which would make this list even longer if included):
- "Suite IV Electric Overture" → "Givin Em What They Love" → "Q.U.E.E.N." → "Electric Lady" (16:23)
- "Dance Apocalyptic" → "Look Into My Eyes" (5:49)
- "Suite V Electric Overture" → "It's Code" → "Ghetto Woman" (11:16)
- "Can't Live Without Your Love" → "Sally Ride" (8:03)
- And then Dirty Computer takes it even further; the only clear break in Dirty Computer is between "Don't Judge Me" and "Stevie's Dream", though there are a few brief gaps of less than a second between a few of these tracks. Songs with no gaps whatsoever:
- "Dirty Computer" → "Crazy, Classic, Life" → "Take a Byte" (10:54)
- "Jane's Dream" → "Screwed" → "Django Jane" (8:31)
- "I Got the Juice" → "I Like That" (7:07)
- "Stevie's Dream" → "So Afraid" → "Americans" (8:57)
- The ArchAndroid:
- Fantastic Arousal: "Wondaland" has the lines "I'm so inspired, / You touched my wires."
- Fantastic Racism: Against perfectly sapient androids. "Metropolis" implies that they are also confined to a "wired side" of town, which other songs imply is underground.
- Faux Affably Evil: The announcer in "March of the Wolfmasters" is gushingly cheerful about the bounty on Cindi's head and the fact that it's only redeemable if you kill her with "chainsaws and electro-daggers" and rip out her soul to boot.
- First Love: Joey Vice, who met Cindi Mayweather while she was working as a cyber-server.
- Free-Love Future: Whether or not this is true for all of Metropolis is unclear, but Cindi is implied to practice a polyamorous lifestyle. Especially within "Mushrooms and Roses".
- Foreshadowing: "Django Jane" includes the lines "paint the city pink" and "let the vagina have a monologue", with the following track being "PYNK", which is full of yonic imagery both in the song's lyrics and video.
- Genre-Busting/Genre Roulette: Definitely falls into the former and at least borders on the latter at times - for instance, Dirty Computer has the hip-hop track "Django Jane" and the lushly orchestrated "Don't Judge Me" within a few songs of each other (though to be fair, "Django Jane" has a fair amount of orchestration as well). About a dozen different genres are major influences on her work, and there's no telling which will dominate a particular track on an album without listening to it (or at least reading commentary on it).
- Girliness Upgrade: Janelle is pushing the limits of her black and white aesthetic. She often wears more traditionally feminine clothing, always in black and white, and changed her once nude lipstick color to a bright red. Compare her Archandroid era style◊ to her Electric Lady style◊.
- Hotter and Sexier: Dirty Computer aims for a raw, sensual atmosphere by abandoning the sanitized "Cindi" android persona.
- If the title of the album and the video for its first single, "Lipstick Lover", are any indication. The Age of Pleasure is going even harder in this direction.
- Incredibly Long Note: The end of "Come Alive". Notable not only for its length (20 seconds) but how high the note is.
- Insistent Terminology: She consistently refers to her music videos - up to and including Dirty Computer's 45-minute film - as "emotion pictures".
- Intercourse with You:
- "Wondaland", which makes reference to touching of wires and leaving underpants somewhere.
- A number of songs from Dirty Computer, such as "Take a Byte", "Screwed", "PYNK", "Make Me Feel", and "Don't Judge Me", are partly or entirely based around this.
- Interspecies Romance: Central to the plot is the romance between Cindi Mayweather, an android, and Anthony Greendown, a human.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Very little of the plot has been explicitly shown.
- The Lancer: Kellindo Parker' many guitar solos on The Archandroid and The Electric Lady firmly establish him as her foil.
- Leotard of Power: Worn by Janelle and her dancers at one point in the video for "PYNK".
- Lighter and Softer: While her music has never been particularly dark, Dirty Computer contains some of her brightest material yet (though there is still some more emotionally intense fare like "Don't Judge Me" and "So Afraid").
- Limited Wardrobe: The reason why she dresses up in a tuxedo all of the time? She considers it her uniform, and it represents the working people. Since The Electric Lady and her Girliness Upgrade, this is mostly averted, though she brings the suit back at times, like the video for "Django Jane".
- Loudness War: Refreshingly averted. Just about every song is produced with meticulous detail, containing multiple layers of instrumentation and vocal touches that require many listens to catch all the nuances. As such, the dynamics have never gone below a DR of 7, and average between 9 and 10.
- Dirty Computer unfortunately falls into this somewhat more, though it's still not too extreme by modern standards. The CD's average dynamic range is DR7; oddly, the digital download is slightly louder, at DR6. "Americans", at DR4, gets the worst of it; a few other songs hit DR5.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "March of the Wolfmasters" again.
- Lysistrata Gambit:
- In an interview with Marie Claire, she suggested that women do this to combat men's sexism, though she later clarified that she wasn't being entirely literal."People have to start respecting the vagina. Until every man is fighting for our rights, we should consider stopping having sex. I love men. But evil men? I will not tolerate that. You don't deserve to be in my presence."
- She revisits this idea in "Django Jane" (though Word of God is that there are multiple ways to interpret this lyric):We gon' start a motherfuckin' pussy riot
Or we gon' have to put 'em on a pussy diet
- In an interview with Marie Claire, she suggested that women do this to combat men's sexism, though she later clarified that she wasn't being entirely literal.
- Mood Whiplash: She has several examples of this, but "Make the Bus" almost certainly stands out beyond all the others.
- The Movie Buff: Janelle has an extensive knowledge of cinema, as shown in "Tightrope" which references Meshes of the Afternoon, and "Q.U.E.E.N.", which references Qui êtes vous, Polly Magoo ?. Not to mention her entire Metropolis saga being named after and largely inspired by, well, Metropolis.
- Ms. Fanservice: If you count wearing assless chaps during a Prince performance as a fanservice-y act, then absolutely.
- Musical Pastiche: She's done several; much of The Electric Lady in particular plays like a 21st century Motown record. A few examples:
- "It's Code" is basically a Jackson 5 song; Janelle even does a dead-on impersonation of an adolescent Michael Jackson.
- "Ghetto Woman" wouldn't have felt out of place on a mid-seventies Stevie Wonder album (e.g., Songs in the Key of Life), apart from the rap break (which still has instrumentation typical of Wonder's work during the era).
- Speaking of rap breaks, the instrumentation underneath "Q.U.E.E.N."'s convincingly mimics the musical style of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On?, which it explicitly mentions.
- And speaking of Marvin Gaye, "What an Experience" is very similar in style to "Sexual Healing", at least until the reggae-influenced part nearer the end.
- "Givin Em What They Love" is basically a Prince song, not a surprise given that the man himself features on it. From Dirty Computer, "Make Me Feel" and "Americans" also wouldn't have felt at all out of place on, say, Purple Rain; Prince himself appears to have written the synth riff to the former. Even from before Prince started appearing on her records, "Make the Bus" (a collaboration with of Montreal) also has clear Prince influence.
- Neat Freak: Her perfectionism extends beyond the realms of music and performance, as anyone can see from her appearance, and she dislikes mess in general.
- New Sound Album:
- Inverted in that The Chase (and later work) is very different from her first album The Audition, which had a more conventional R&B/pop sound.
- Arguably all of her albums to some extent. The ArchAndroid made lush orchestral elements a central element of her sound; The Electric Lady was funkier and more overtly Motown-influenced while keeping a lot of the orchestral influence; Dirty Computer cranks up the influence from modern pop and hip-hop without abandoning the complexity of her previous two albums. There are some elements that are constant throughout her music, though.
- Non-Appearing Title: Several examples. Notably, "Many Moons" plays it straight as a standalone song, but the music video provides the Title Drop used in the page quote.
- The Oner: "Cold War" is a single long take of Janelle's face as she lip-syncs to the song.
- Odd Couple: With Joey Vice. He's a punk, and she has the look and poise of a classic movie star.
- Opening Narration: Some of her concert performances open with one, highly reminiscent of the narration of Princess Irulan.
- Performance Video:
- "Many Moons", although it still fits into the Metropolis concept.
- "Dance Apocalyptic" features Monáe performing as the Electric Lady on an American Bandstand pastiche.
- Pink Is Erotic: The song "Pynk" associates the color with a lot of sexual and intimate imagery. The video features dancers in pink pants that resemble a labia."Pink like the inside of your, baby
Pink behind all of the doors, crazy
Pink like the tongue that goes down, maybe
Pink like the paradise found
Pink when you're blushing inside, baby"
- Polyamory: In Dirty Computer, protagonist Jane has feelings for both Zen and Che. Both of them appear to be fine with this.
- Prequel: The Electric Lady is the prequel to the Metropolis saga.
- Protest Song:
- "Mr. President", which is mainly about putting education over warfare.
- "Americans" and "Django Jane" also have some protest elements.
- The single "Hell You Talmbout"note was specifically written by Monáe and the Wondaland roster to be used in protests, a drum line and choir accompanying a chant of names of Black citizens killed by Police Brutality and racial violence. The band also released an instrumental version so protestors could insert their own chant with other names as desired.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: "Say You'll Go" has a few bars of Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune" on it.
- Pun-Based Title: "Screwed" can be taken both in a negative (as in, we've been ruined) and a positive sense (let's have sex as a form of protest).
- Queer Colors: She employs pink, purple, and blue lighting in her music video for "Make Me Feel." Monae is queer, and the video shows her flirting with both a man and a woman.
- Rags to Riches: This is noteworthy as Janelle Monáe makes a point to use this part of her story to inspire both her fans and her aesthetic: Her mother was a janitor, her father was a garbage truck driver who struggled with drug addiction, and to go to Conservatory she spent time working with her mother. While producing The Audition, she was working at Office Depot, and incidentally, got fired for messaging fans on store computers.
- Repurposed Pop Song:
- "Tightrope" was used in a number of commercials for the Chevrolet Cruze.
- "Make Me Feel" has seen usage in commercials for Ritz Cheese Crispers.
- Robo Family: The prerelease for The Electric Lady reveals that Cindi has five sisters, all of them Alpha Platinum 3000s. Exactly what "sister" means when the AP3000 is a mass production model has yet to be revealed.
- Robosexual: In the past the only clues about her sexuality Monáe revealed were along the lines of a 2011 Evening Standard interview where she stated "I only date androids", though she clarified, sort of, that 'android' was a metaphor for "the new 'other'.
- Robot Girl:
- Cindi Mayweather, the protagonist of the android trilogy.
- Subverted in the Dirty Computer emotion picture: people are called "computers", but they appear to just be biological humans whose minds are manipulated like a hard disk drive.
- Rule of Cool: Several aspects of her aesthetic. For example, the "Q.U.E.E.N." video features a turntable whose needle is a golden canine tooth on a white skull.
- Science Fantasy: The setting is an ultra-futuristic city full of Ridiculously Human Robots, but magic is apparently present.
- "Sesame Street" Cred: She appeared on Sesame Street itself with a motivational song called "The Power of Yet."
- Second Love: Anthony Greendown turned out to be this for Cindi Mayweather.
- Sexy Packaging: The album art for The Age of Pleasure depicts Monáe swimming through a row of men's legs while all of them are topless.
- Electric sheep are mentioned in "Faster" and "Q.U.E.E.N.", and the story's full title, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, is mentioned in "Make the Bus".
- "Metropolis" mentions searching for paradise found.
- The music video for "Tightrope" features two cloaked figures with flat mirrors as masks. These same figures appeared in Maya Deren's classic 1940 avant garde film "Meshes of the Afternoon."
- The opening lines of "Dance Apocalyptic" are a reference to "Bands-A-Make-Her-Dance" by Juicy J.
- "Django Jane" is full of these, with shout-outs to Alice in Wonderland, Pussy Riot, Moonlight (2016), James Bond, Vincent van Gogh, How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, Viola Davis, Transformers, Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff", The Vagina Monologues, and, of course, Django Unchained. There are other, subtler ones as well; Monáe herself has explained some of these on the song's Genius page.
- "Screwed" contains a possible shout-out to Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" ("wanna get screwed like an animal"). Both songs have a lot of Prince influence, so it's not as off the wall as it might sound at first.
- "Q.U.E.E.N." contains a reference to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On?, as well as to historical figures like Harriet Tubman and Queen Nefertiti. Additionally, she name-drops mastering engineer Bernie Grundman, who has won some 37 Grammy Awards.
- "Electric Lady" contains references to Prince's "U Got the Look", Joan of Arc, Mia Farrow, and Lassie, among others.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Very, very much so on the idealistic end, though done not without acknowledging the world's many problems.
- Spell My Name with an S: Is it Cindi or Cindy? Official sources lean heavily toward the former.
- Spoken Word in Music: "Ooh La La" is a brief spoken interlude performed by Grace Jones.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Cindi and Anthony; in Metropolis, an android who falls in love with a human faces the death penalty, whether they act on their feelings or not. It's implied that Anthony is being hunted down as well. This trope is lampshaded in "March of the Wolfmasters", where Cindi is introduced as "a new star-crossed winner in our Heartbreak Sweepstakes."
- The Stinger:
- The Dirty Computer emotion picture ends on what looks like a Downer Ending: Jane 57821 is completely cleansed and becomes another "Mary Apple" to help with Ché's cleansing process. However, just after the credits, we are treated to a scene of Xen, having regained her individuality, tossing two gas masks to Ché and Jane - who has successfully clung to her memories and dreams -, gassing the whole facility with Nevermind, and the three of them escaping.
- The album also qualifies: "Americans" closes with "Please sign your name on the dotted line" as an example of this.
- There's something of one at the end of "Neon Valley Street" as well; the song has a Fake-Out Fade-Out before what sounds like a recording of a phone call leads into "Make the Bus".
- The Stoic: She certainly comes across as so in interviews, but during performances she is far more upbeat, and has at least twice been moved to tears on camera.
- Stripperiffic: Averted, which is uncommon for R&B singers.T-t-t-talkin' bout, "Why don't she change her clothes?" Well, they ain't seem to mind the last THREE times I posed in Vogue!!
- Super Prototype: Cindi is the prototype for her line and appears to have powers that later models don't.
- Take That!: Dirty Computer features several variations on "this pussy grabs back", a clap-back to certain comments about women made by the 45th US president.
- Tear Jerker: Invoked; Monáe tears up in the "Cold War" video.
- Three Chords and the Truth: Dirty Computer could be considered a downplayed example of this compared to her previous two albums, especially The ArchAndroid; the pop influence is increased and the arrangements are moderately less complicated. Regardless, it's still quite a bit more ornate than your typical modern pop music.
- Time Police: The conceit for the "Q.U.E.E.N." video is that Monáe has been arrested by the Time Council and placed in a museum full of time-frozen musical revolutionaries, but is freed by some young freedom fighters.
- Trilogy Creep: The covers of The Chase and The ArchAndroid imply that the Metropolis saga was planned to be four suites long. However, The Electric Lady is comprised of suites IV and V, and its album cover implies that the story will now reach at least seven suites.
- Uncommon Time: Probably not a complete list:
- "Overture II" changes time signatures several times, including a bit of 5/4.
- "BabopbyeYa" also uses several time signatures. Around 3:30, there's a segment with (6+5)/8, surrounded by otherwise plain 6/8. The shift is very subtle, and if you weren't counting, you'd probably miss it, but also feel unaccountably disoriented.
- The verses of "So Afraid" are in 10/4.
- Visual Pun:
- In "Django Jane", after she says the line "Let the vagina have a monologue", she appears rapping the next line reflected in a mirror held over a woman's crotch.
- In "PYNK", a song about sex and romance with women, there are several prominent shots of a fluffy cat.
- Voice of the Legion: The voice of the announcer in "March of the Wolfmasters" is occasionally overlaid with a deep, robotic voice, lending her this effect. It's also present in the "I love you, and I won't take no for an answer" line in "Violet Stars Happy Hunting!".
- White Mask of Doom: The Punk Prophets. Deep Cotton wear plague doctor masks while the rest of the prophets wear lantern-jawed masks.
- Whole-Plot Reference:
- Her Metropolis series is named after Fritz Lang's 1927 silent film Metropolis, from which it takes several elements of its plot and setting, though she puts her own spin on them.
- The series could also be considered one to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, given that Philip K. Dick explicitly intended the androids in his novel to symbolise dehumanisation wherever it appears in society (though this has commonly been misinterpreted; Dick explicitly stated that he wrote the novel to explore the mindset that led to the Holocaust, but many readers miss the novel's subtle evidence that his androids are capable of empathy - and, for that matter, that they are basically children who never live past the age of four). The elements of bounty hunters and androids are more or less straight out of Dick's novel, and Monáe uses androids very much in the spirit that Dick intended them, to symbolise the 'other' in society.
- A Wild Rapper Appears!:
- "Q.U.E.E.N." ends with a rap verse from Monáe.
- There are also occurrences of this in "Electric Lady", "Crazy, Classic, Life", and "Screwed", among other songs; "Screwed" also transitions seamlessly into "Django Jane", which is all rapped. It should be noted that most of the rap breaks make up about fifty seconds of their respective songs, if that - which, of course, fits perfectly under this trope.
- The Wonka: Certainly an eccentric whimsical character, and yet with a stern authoritative demeanor that gives her an appearance of magic power. While producing The Audition, she ran amok on AUC, performing for students and rallying them around certain messages, for example that college was a waste of money and they should look for what truly made them passionate.
- Wretched Hive: Metropolis seems to be one, based on all the crimelords present at the robot auction shown in the "Many Moons" video.
- Yandere: Cindi, if a line in "Violet Stars Happy Hunting!" that goes "I love you, and I won't take no for an answer" is to be taken seriously. (Alternatively, she could be referring to her defiance of society by refusing to abandon her love for a human just because the law says so.)