Janelle Monae Reflects on Having Prince as a Mentor: ‘He Never Let His Mystery Get in the Way’


The “Water Slide” singer recalled a special moment where the iconic artist joined her opening set at his concert.

Janelle Monàe has nothing but fondness for Prince, she revealed in her Thursday (Dec. 14) sit-down on The Jennifer Hudson Show. The “Water Slide” singer gushed about the late artist’s support for her and other Black musicians, and reflected on a special moment in which he took the stage with her during a concert.


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“He loved you. I remember talking about you — he loved you and that just speaks to the type of person he was. I think he was a big advocate for artists, for Black women in particular,” Monàe told Hudson, who remarked that she was sad she didn’t have the chance to work with Prince before his death in 2016.

The 10-time Grammy nominee continued, “I just remember him calling me, like, ‘Hello, Janelle. This is Prince.’ I opened up for him — I wanna say this was The Forum. I did Madison Square Garden and I also did The Forum, and this was my set opening for him, and he came out during our set and performed our song we have together [“Give ‘Em What They Love”] on [my 2013 album] The Electric Lady together. The headliner never comes out before its time for them to come, and for him to do that … he never let his mystery get in the way of his mentorship.”

Monáe and Prince continued to work together throughout the 2010s, with the late icon helping her with her 2018 album, Dirty Computer. In an interview about the set with The Guardian, Monáe shared that the “Raspberry Beret” singer was helping her “collect sounds” for the project before he died. “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 explained.

Monáe also noted at the time that she “dedicate[s] 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.”

Watch Monáe talk about Prince’s mentorship in the video above.

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