Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 Essential Albums by LGBTQ Artists, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Considering that the qualifier “LGBTQ” can often be open to various interpretations, for the purposes of this particular list, we have defined an artist as LGBTQ if he, she or they have ever publicly identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer. Moreover, albums by groups have been included in the list if any of their members fit the aforementioned criteria, even if some members do not.
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Janelle Monáe | The ArchAndroid
Wondaland/Bad Boy/Atlantic (2010)
Selected by Patrick Corcoran
Bursting onto the scene through her android alter ego Cindi Mayweather, Janelle Monáe fused funk, soul, rock and roll and musical theatre to create her debut full-length album The ArchAndroid in 2010. This alter ego allowed her to play with notions of “otherness” through an Afro-futuristic lens, influenced as much by Phillip K Dick as by the musicians she grew up loving. By placing Cindi as the outsider here to save us from ourselves, Monáe could tackle themes of gender, sexuality and race in a way that allowed her personal traits to melt into the background of the sci-fi driven plot that permeates the album.
That same character would reappear on her follow up The Electric Lady (2013) before Monáe herself stepped forward, front and center, to confront the same issues on a far more personal level with 2018’s Dirty Computer. Irrespective of approach, Monáe writes about embracing life and acceptance of who each of us is—a positivity that is needed more now than almost any other time.