Janelle Monae‘s new album Dirty Computer is an enthralling and theatrical project about sexuality, blackness and feminism that presents Monae at her most personal. One of the standout tracks from the album is “I Got the Juice,” featuring Pharrell, an incredibly emphatic and swaggering song full of rhythmic, hip-shaking drums, heavy bass, and groovy guitars.
Much of Dirty Computer sounds, purposefully, like a dedication to Prince, both in the production and Monae’s vocals. “I Got the Juice” is one of the best applications of the blueprint, with the track combining funk, R&B, rap, and rock effortlessly. Monae’s performance commands attention at every step: in the same breath she raps “Now go on girl and use that sauce (that sauce) / If you don’t, then that’s your loss (your loss)” and warns that “If you try to grab my pussy cat, this pussy grab you back.” Throughout the song, she thunderously shouts “I got the juice” like a rallying call for women; but it’s also an expression of joy and power that’s invigorating for anyone to listen to.
Pharrell is fine on the song but he’s very much a side dish. He brings his deep-voiced, monotone rap style to a song that’s too upbeat and alive to be bogged down by it. It’s “cool” in a song full of passion. “I Got the Juice” is one of the best songs on Dirty Computer, though it’s almost exhaustive with how much energy it exerts and inspires. But when you think it might be over, it kicks back in with a slowed down, cool-off portion. The song is aware of how much it’ll get your body moving but it’s not quite ready to let you go yet, and honestly, you won’t be ready to let it go either.