Last week, Janelle Monáe released her new single “Turntables,” her first new song since her 2018 album, Dirty Computer. It’s included in the a new documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy, about Stacey Abrams’s controversial loss in the gubernatorial race against Brian Kemp. It’s directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés. Today, “Turntables” comes to life in a new music video.
“Turntables” starts with a preview of its celebratory chorus, but then it draws back for some talk from Janelle. She raps in her raspy, no-nonsense voice, talking about being under pressure and in a rage. In the pre-chorus, she calls for a new regime, because America as it is now is a lie. As bad as it is now, though, Janelle inspires on the chorus: “the tables bout to turn”! It’s an excellent and timely new song, and we certainly hope Janelle’s prediction is right.
The new music video – or rather, emotion picture – shows Janelle dressed professionally as she swaggers around a kitchen and in front of an American flag. The message is really driven home by the extra footage, from recent marches in support of Black Lives Matter, of voting booths, and of problematic statues toppling down. It’s powerful, and a great fit for the new documentary.
Watch the “emotion picture” for “Turntables” below:
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Janelle talked about how she ended up writing and recording “Turntables” for this documentary. She admitted that, when she was asked to do make a song, she wasn’t sure she was up for it:
I didn’t tell them this, but I was thinking to myself, “I am not in a creative mood and some of this will be triggering to me.”
Luckily, she said yes anyway. Though she only had one week to complete the song her long-time collaborator Nate “Rocket” Wonder helped, and was both motivating and inspiring. Taking the necessary health and safety precautions, they got together to write and record. Janelle explained:
I leaned a lot on him and the book that I was reading [Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist] and realizing that I have to be the energy for other voices who are putting themselves on the front line. I’m thankful that the spirit was able to move through us.
Janelle asked herself, “What is a revolution without a song?” As she continued to Rolling Stone:
I started thinking about all the people on the front line. What could be my gift to them? It was this song to remind them that the tables are turning. We’re seeing that progress is being made, even in the midst of dealing with such traumatic events. We have figured out a way to be the solution. I wanted this to be my gift because revolutionaries need love too. They need inspiration, and they need an anthem. This is my stab at that.
Despite her initial reticence, “Turntables” ended up becoming a perfect song for right now. It appears in All In: The Fight for Democracy, available to stream this Friday. Also out this Friday is Janelle’s new film, Antebellum – one of our most anticipated movies of the year.
Enjoy the new song and music video, and keep checking back here for all the latest Janelle Monáe music news.
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