7. Janelle Monae, “Dirty Computer”
As calculated and expected as anything she’s ever done, Monae’s return to music is easy to take for granted. However, listen closer, for she no longer sounds like she’s recklessly throwing darts and seeing what hits the target. As opposed to her previous LPs, this plays like a seamless, complete work (its compact frame helps a lot)–a considerable achievement when you parse all the genre (and of course gender) fluidity and big name cameos (Brian Wilson and Stevie Wonder) it makes room for. “Make Me Feel” is a great, great Prince rip, but a song like “Screwed” goes beyond tribute/pastiche, to the degree that one can imagine it as the basis for a good Monae rip someday.