Janelle Monáe spoke out about bucking expectations of being a queer icon in a new cover story on Monday (May 22).
“I’m not obligated to share my story,” the proudly non-binary artist told Rolling Stone for the magazine’s June 2023 issue. “Nobody’s obligated. But I do think it’s powerful for me to talk and give a name to some of these things.”
Elsewhere in the interview, though, she cautioned against putting any musician or public figure on a pedestal. “You cannot project onto artists. You have to understand that experiences will be had and people will change and evolve and not be the person you look up to,” she said. “As much as you love and care about me, I’m on my own journey that has nothing to do with music, has nothing to do with art.”
Monáe is on the precipice of releasing her fourth album, The Age of Pleasure, which is due out June 9 via Atlantic Records. Pivoting from the futuristic narrative of her early releases such as 2010’s The ArchAndroid and 2013’s The Electric Lady, the forthcoming studio set is rooted in the sounds of the Black diaspora in the here and now.
“It was inspired by all of my friends, my community of folks who are from South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, the Caribbean, Atlanta, L.A., Chicago,” the singer said. “Seeing all of us together in our Blackness, in the love that we had in our eyes for each other. People from the continent f–k around with trap from Atlanta. You know what I’m saying? I love how the diaspora — we talk to each other.”
Check out Monáe’s Rolling Stone cover below.