Lots of musicians try to get into acting. Janelle Monaé has already succeeded wildly. Unless you count her voice role in Rio 2, Monaé’s first two films, Moonlight and Hidden Figures, were both nominated for Best Picture, and Moonlight won. Next week, Antebellum, the new horror film that Monaé stars in, will come out on VOD. These days, when Monaé does make music, a lot of the time it’s adjacent to her film career, as in her opening performance at this year’s Oscars. Today, Monaé has come out with a new song, her first in a couple of years. It’s for a soundtrack.
Monaé’s new single is called “Turntables,” and it’s her first new track since she released her excellent album Dirty Computer in 2018. The new song was written for the new film All In: The Fight for Democracy. The movie, coming next week on Amazon, is a documentary about the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and her voting-rights crusade. Abrams is one of the producers of the movie, which Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés directed.
“Turntables” is a loose, funky track with a half-rapped vocal from Monaé. Monaé co-wrote it with regular Wondaland collaborators Nathaniel Irvin III and George A. Peters, and Nate “Rocket” Wonder and Roman GianArthur produced it. Listen below.
Talking to Zane Lowe on Apple Music today, Monaé had this to say about “Turntables”:
We are changing things. The tables are turning. The rooster has come home to roost. So this song is capturing direction. And when you think about a record, when you think about a record spinning, when you think about the revolutions per minute, it’s all connected. And that is what this song means. This song doesn’t mean that I’m the leader, that I’m here to tell you what to do, how to fix things. I’m simply watching, examining and wanting to highlight all of the people who are on the front lines, fighting for our democracy, fighting against racial inequalities, fighting against white supremacy, fighting against systemic racism and systemic oppression. So this song is to keep us motivated. This song is to lift up and keep us galvanized when we’re fatigued. And this song is really for the people.
All In is out in some theaters 9/9, and it’ll be streaming on Amazon Prime 9/18.