Janelle Monae Says Prince's Death Made Her Pause on Recording 'Dirty Computer': 'I Couldn't Pick Up the Phone'

Janelle Monae
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Janelle Monae attends the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 3, 2018 in Santa Monica, Calif.

Janelle Monae’s hiatus from music was partly due to the death of her mentor Prince.

Janelle Monae says that one of the reasons she took a break from the music world in the years following 2013's The Electric Lady LP was because of Prince’s unexpected death in April 2016.

“This was the person that I would literally call and talk to about sounds or: ‘How should I say this? Is this saying too much?’ I just never could imagine a time where I couldn’t pick up the phone or email him, and he’d contact me right back and we’d talk about all these things that I was unsure of,” Monae told the New York Times Magazine in an April 19 interview.

At the time, Monae and Prince were working closely together on a project -- which eventually would become her upcoming album Dirty Computer (April 27). When he died, Monae began to rethink her next era.

“I couldn’t fake being vulnerable,” she says. “In terms of how I will be remembered, I have anxiety around that, like the whole concept about what I’ll be remembered for.” Before his death, Prince also remixed Monae’s track “Q.U.E.E.N.” and appeared on her 2013 album The Electric Lady.

One track on Dirty Computer apparently evokes Prince’s song “Let’s Go Crazy,” and Monae says that he continues to inspire her every move. “He was in that “free [expletive] category,” she explains. “That’s where I want to be. That’s where I want to ultimately be.”