Listening to Janelle Monáe's new single – and early Song of the Year contender – "Make Me Feel," it's difficult not to hear the spiritual footprint of her mentor, Prince. The guitar lick is reminiscent of "Kiss," one of his most famous singles, and the staccato beat also seems to bear his most purple signature.
In interviews conducted around release of the track (alongside her other new single, "Django Jane"), Monáe has discussed her relationship with Prince, and confirmed his involvement in the making of her album. Speaking to Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1 (hear the full interview below), she said "Prince actually was working on the album with me before he passed on to another frequency. And helped me come up with sounds, and I really miss him, you know, it's hard for me to talk about him. But I do miss him, and his spirit will never leave me."
Speaking with the Guardian, Monáe offered further insight into her relationship with Prince, noting that for her, his death was "a stab in the stomach. The last time I saw him was New Year’s Day. I performed a private party in St Bart’s with him, and after we sat and just talked for five hours. He was one of the people I would talk to about things, him and Stevie Wonder."
She continues, citing his influence on her entire career:
“I wouldn’t be as comfortable with who I am if it had not been for Prince. I mean, my label Wondaland would not exist without Paisley Park coming before us,”
Though Prince's loss is still keenly felt throughout the music world, it's true that artist like Monáe seems like a perfect spiritual successor to someone like Prince: she's just as daring, visionary, versatile and talented. If the two singles we have heard so far are evidence of its quality, Dirty Computer looks to be a fitting tribute to the late icon, full of his influence, work, and idiosyncratic brilliance.
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