VIBE: What about the roles that image and sexuality play?
MONÁE: I’m in a unique position, because I came into the music industry owning my own record label, so when I met Puff, I came into it with a set of core values. I said if you want to work with me, this is where I am. I’m not changing my hair. This is the image that I want the world to see. I’m a young black girl with natural hair. I’m not playing into the whole marginalization of women. I’m not singing songs that don’t move me. I’m writing my own music, take it or leave it. And so I got a chance to partner up with people who believed in me. As the artist, it’s up to you to have that vision and to come up with fresh ideas. My message has always been that women should be in control of their bodies—whatever we want to wear. If I want to wear a tuxedo every day of the week, I’m going to wear it. If somebody wants to go out naked every day, let her go out free—this is my uniform, that’s their uniform. I don’t see any difference. I don’t think I’m better or holier. Women should be in control; they should not feel the pressure of anybody’s own ideas of who they should be.
THICKE: All the lines are blurred in those departments, which is what I was saying. Women are equal to men in every single way, especially when it comes to art—all those lines should be crossed. There’s nothing wrong with nudity. People have been painting and sculpting women’s naked bodies since the beginning of time. There’s nothing more beautiful. What’s wrong with showing it? I started a conversation with [“Blurred Lines”] and the video. It became a big catch song that white people took notice of. White people that listen to soul and hip-hop know who I am, but people that listen to pop—I’m brand new to most of them. It’s a cute joke, but it’s true.
MONÁE: That is the fight that we’re still up against. We have a lot of brainwashing, media playing into stereotypes, and making people feel as though we’re all monolithic. When I came into the industry, there was nobody and there still isn’t anybody who looks like me. So it was also a very “screw you” mentality. There’s no contract that says if you look like this, dress like this, sing like this, you’re going to be famous. People are scared; they don’t know what is going to be a hit or not. If I was going to take a gamble, it would be on something I believe in.