Janelle Monáe Embraces Her ‘Free-Ass Motherf-cking Spirit’ in New Rolling Stone Cover Shoot
Janelle Monáe is “walking more and more into [her] free-ass motherfucking spirit” as she graces the cover of Rolling Stone for the first time since 2018.
A new behind-the-scenes video offers a look at how the dazzling cover photos — shot by photographer Justin French — came about. “Working with Justin French is always wonderful,” Monáe says. “He’s super collaborative, so calm, and we like a lot of the same photos, too. I noticed we have similar taste.… I tried to bring my album vibe to the project.
In the clip, Monáe reflects on what’s changed in the five years since her last album, 2018’s Dirty Computer, and all that’s influenced her new album, The Age of Pleasure.
“I’m completely honored to be gracing Rolling Stone’s Pride issue this June,” Monáe exclaims. “I’ve definitely evolved a lot more since being on the cover in 2018. I’m happier, and I’m just walking more and more into my free-ass motherfucking spirit. I think that’s all I can really say — we are floating.”
Monáe went on to say that as she was making The Age of Pleasure (out June 9), she focused on “not talking over the art” or “the experience of the album.” She continued: “It’s a frequency that you either feel, or you don’t.”
To best sum up the LP, she quoted one of her favorite singer-songwriters, Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire: “If it ain’t no beauty, make some beauty.” Monáe says The Age of Pleasure was her “attempt at capturing all of the beauty around me, inside of me, bottling it up, and giving it to you.”
As she discusses further in her new interview with Rolling Stone, The Age of Pleasure reflects Monáe’s efforts to reorient her world around pleasure, to enjoy herself, be present, and hopefully quell her anxiety. It’s also very much a celebration of community.
“I think being an artist gets lonely,” Monáe says. “Most people don’t understand what’s going on in my brain. Community has been so helpful to me; it’s beautiful that I have a title called The Age of Pleasure because it actually re-centers me. It’s not about an album anymore. I’ve changed my whole fucking lifestyle.”
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