Janelle Monae plans dystopian film to accompany album

Artist Janelle Monae -- shown here performing at the Bonnaroo festival in 2014 -- will release a film next week with her new album "Dirty Computer"

New York (AFP) – The singer Janelle Monae on Friday announced the release of a dystopian film to accompany her first album in nearly five years, which was initially being produced by Prince.

Monae, who has increasingly focused on acting of late with roles in the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight” and the well-received NASA history pic “Hidden Figures,” will roll out “Dirty Computer” on April 27.

The 44-minute film, “Dirty Computer: an Emotion Picture by Janelle Monae,” will come out a day earlier and bring together music videos tied to the album, the singer said.

The film will air on the music and youth culture network MTV, African American-oriented entertainment network BET and their international partners.

The “emotion picture” — which also stars “Selma” actress Tessa Thompson — features Monae playing a woman named Jane 57821 who lives in a totalitarian society where citizens are described as computers.

The film “explores humanity and what truly happens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when mind and machines merge, and when the government chooses fear over freedom,” MTV and BET parent Viacom said in an announcement.

Monae, 32, won acclaim starting with her musical debut a decade ago for her blending of classic soul and jazz with psychedelic, science-fiction narratives.

In an era in which female stars often maximize sex appeal with skimpy outfits, Monae casts a bookish figure and performs in customized tuxedos. 

Monae had found a mentor in Prince who died suddenly two years ago from an accidental overdose of powerful painkillers.

In an interview with The New York Times Magazine, Monae said she had been working with the pop legend on “Dirty Computer” and shelved the project temporarily after his death.

“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,” she said.

Monae has already released three tracks from the album including “Django Jane,” a rap track on which she hits back at threats she has received as a prominent advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement for civil rights.