Janelle Monae credits Prince with helping her become comfortable with who she is.
The 32-year-old singer and actress is gearing up to release new album Dirty Computer, her first record in almost five years. She worked closely with Prince on the offering prior to his death in April, 2016, and finds it hard to talk about the late legend nearly two years later.
"It's difficult for me to even speak about this because Prince was helping me with the album, before he passed on to another frequency," she said during an interview with Britain's The Guardian newspaper.
His death was a "stab in the stomach" for Janelle, who added: "The last time I saw him was New Year's Day. I performed a private party in St Bart's with him, and after we sat and just talked for five hours. He was one of the people I would talk to about things, him and Stevie Wonder."
In fact, Prince was one of Janelle's earliest champions, campaigning for her first appearance at the BET Awards, and he and Janelle had been "collecting sounds" for Dirty Computer prior to his death.
"I wouldn't be as comfortable with who I am if it had not been for Prince. I mean, my label Wondaland would not exist without Paisley Park coming before us," Janelle continued. "He would probably get me for cussin', but Prince is in that 'free motherf**ker' category. That's the category when we can recognize in each other that you're also a free motherf**ker. Whether we curse or not, we see other free motherf**kers. David Bowie! A free motherf**ker. I feel their spirit, I feel their energy. They were able to evolve. You felt that freedom in them.
"I dedicate a lot of my music to Prince, for everything he's done for music and black people and women and men, for those who have something to say and also at the same time will not allow society to take the dirt off of them. It's about that dirt, and not getting rid of that dirt."
Janelle released singles Make Me Feel and Django Jane from Dirty Computer on Friday (23Feb18).