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Book References from the Track Listing of Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer

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Danielle Bourgon

Staff Writer

Danielle is an educator, theatre artist, and book lover from Toronto, Ontario. She acknowledges that this is the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and most recently, the territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit where she is grateful to live and work. When she’s not drinking tea and reading on the couch, she’s recommending books to her students, friends, and family. She’s a feminist, a nerd, and a baker. Oh. And she has Hogwarts tattooed on her arm.

On Tuesday, Janelle Monae released the track listing for her upcoming album, Dirty Computer, complete with annotations about the inspiration for each track. The song titles and annotations were incredibly inspiring. In case you weren’t able to have an in depth read of the track listing, here’s a break down of the specific book references in Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer. Consider it as a companion piece for the album release and a way to dive deeper into the inspiration behind the music.

bluest-eye-toni-morrison-coverThe Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Specific reference to the character of Pecola Breedlove.

This was mentioned as a source for Track #1 “Dirty Computer (feat. Brian Wilson).”




the-holy-bible-coverThe Holy Bible

Specific verses referenced include:

Genesis 3:16, Genesis 9:20–27, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13. Featured as a note on Track #1 “Dirty Computer (feat. Brian Wilson).”

Eve in the Garden of Eden. Listed in the notes for Track #3 “Take a Byte.”



black-panther-coverBlack Panther

Specific references made to the vibranium of Wakanda (Track #2 “Crazy, Classic, Life”) and the Dora Milaje (Track #6 “Django Jane”).


women-and-power-mary-beard-coverWomen & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard.

Specific quote: “It is not just that it is more difficult for women to succeed; they get treated much more harshly if they mess up.”

Listed as a reference for Track #2 “Crazy, Classic, Life.”



american-gods-cover-neil-gaimanAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman

Specific reference made to Bilquis the Queen of Sheba.

Listed as a note for Track #3 “Take a Byte.”


the-great-cosmic-mother-coverThe Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Moor

The specific reference was to late night conversations and debates about this text in connection to international goddesses like Isis and Athena for Track #7 “Pynk (feat. Grimes).”


vagina-a-new-biography-coverVagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf

This was listed as an inspiration for Track #7 “Pynk (feat. Grimes),” specifically the insights that the author led to for Janelle.