Even though we’re officially exiting one season (winter) and entering another (spring), that doesn’t mean that your tea game has to slow down. Aside from the fact that springtime tends to still have some pretty chilly nights, there is nothing like a tall glass of herbal iced tea that’s been sweetened with honey and a bit of fresh fruit on the days when it’s warmer outdoors.
And while we’re on the topic of teas, why not consume some that will make things hotter in the bedroom? Yep, there are certain ones out here (12 in this article) that have some strong data to support the fact that they can do wonders for your libido — on a few different levels.
So, after reading this, commit to picking up some loose-leaf tea (oftentimes it’s best). Boil for 20 minutes, let it cool, put it in a mason jar and let it steep for 48 hours (with your favorite sweetener). Then add some ice and take it all in. You’ll have an all-natural concoction that will get you maximum herb intake and quite possibly some pretty intense orgasms too (whew-whee!).
1. Ashwagandha Tea
If there’s one artist who tickles me as much as he low-key terrifies me when it comes to the random ish that comes out of his mouth, it’s Kevin Gates. On the laughing tip, I literally cried as I was reading the comments under this particular Twitter post because it’s clear that either he doesn’t know how to pronounce maca (maa·kuh) or ashwagandha (aash·wuh·gaan·duh) or he was really going out of his way to make the cadence work in this song. LOL. Anyway, he does help to prove the point that this herb is that one when it comes to boosting libido levels.
Since ashwagandha has a solid reputation for reducing stress and anxiety, improving athletic performance, and even making depression-related symptoms easier to bear, it would make perfect sense that it’s known for being an aphrodisiac too.
There are studies that support that it can be helpful when it comes to strengthening women’s orgasms, in part, by reducing vaginal dryness and discomfort during intercourse. Some studies reveal that it can help to increase testosterone levels in both men and women as well.
A word of caution on this one, though. If you’re diabetic, breastfeeding, have an overactive thyroid, or take sedatives, run this one by your physician first. As with just about any herb, ashwagandha can be potent and come with unwanted side effects for certain types of individuals.
2. Green Tea
Okay, so from what I’ve read and researched, on average, a cup of brewed coffee is gonna have somewhere around 96 mg of caffeine per cup while that same cup of green tea is gonna land at around 28 mg. So, if you’re someone who wants to ease off of caffeine a bit this year or you want a pick-me-up that doesn’t pack as big of a punch as coffee does, green tea will do it. Some other benefits include the fact that it’s loaded with antioxidants, it can help to improve your brain function, it fights off the free radicals that are in your system and it can help you to lose weight.
On the sex tip, aside from the fact that the caffeine that’s in it can give you a boost of energy on the days/nights when the mind is willing but the flesh is weak, green tea also can improve and increase blood circulation which results in longer erections for him and better orgasms for you.
3. Saffron Tea
The brief backstory on saffron is it’s a spice that comes from a flower. It’s said to have originated in Greece and is one of the most popular spices when it comes to cooking. It ain’t cheap, I’ll just tell you that now. Still, it’s got some benefits that are worth noting.
Saffron reduces body inflammation, helps with weight loss, is effective at minimizing PMS-related symptoms, helps to put you into a better mood, and is said to lower blood sugar levels and heart disease risks too.
The reason why the tea form of it made it onto this particular list is that some studies say that saffron is beneficial in naturally treating men who deal with erectile dysfunction (ED) while also improving the libido of women who take antidepressants.
4. Vanilla Tea
Vanilla tea is dope on a few different levels. It’s slightly sweet even without anything like sugar or honey in it. It contains quite a few antioxidants. It’s got a way of increasing your metabolism while decreasing your stress levels at the same time. It also contains properties that help to soothe your nervous system and improve your quality of sleep.
Since I already know that vanilla is an aphrodisiac scent, I’m not surprised at all that it’s also a libido booster in tea form. Some studies say that it helps to heal erectile dysfunction while increasing arousal. Others say that it can enhance a man’s sexual performance over time.
And again, since the scent of vanilla alone can increase arousal in men by almost 10 percent, that sounds like a solid enough reason to have a sip — or two.
5. Damiana Tea
One day, I’m gonna share my journey with Damiens. I’ve had three in my lifetime and whew, chile. Anyway, when it comes to damiana tea, one of the things that it’s most known for is improving the quality of sex lives.
As a shrub that is quite popular in traditional Mexican medicine, damiana has been used for everything from bronchitis and fevers to fungal infections, anemia, and gastrointestinal issues.
What makes it a win in the sexual pleasure department is it contains a powerful amount of flavonoids (compounds that are found in fruits and vegetables) that can intensify your natural sex hormones. The stronger your hormones are, honey…I’m pretty sure that you already know the rest.
6. Cinnamon Tea
I can’t believe that it’s (almost) been four years since I’ve talked about how applying cinnamon essential oil on your partner’s genitalia can make for a really good time (hey, don’t knock it until you tried it; I talk about all-a-dat right here).
As far as cinnamon in tea form goes, it’s another one that’s filled with antioxidants. Cinnamon tea also helps to lower inflammation and blood sugar levels, contains powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties (which is great when it comes to treating tooth decay) and it can make period cramps less painful. As a serious bonus, it also helps to fight certain HIV-related strains (the more you know).
And what makes it great for your libido? For one thing, the lower your blood sugar levels are, the less stressed you’ll feel and the less constricted your blood flow will be; this means longer and more intense orgasms. Also, because cinnamon is spicy, the turn-up of heat in your body can also heighten your arousal levels.
7. Maca Tea
If you clicked on that Twitter link, you heard Kevin (attempt to) combine maca with ashwagandha — and honestly, that’s one hell of a combination, y’all. That’s because maca is well-known for being an aphrodisiac too.
Before getting into how/why, some other benefits of this herb are it helps to keep free radicals out of your system, improves your memory, and is also pretty good at reducing symptoms that are directly associated with menopause.
As far as coitus goes, it’s got all kinds of ways to improve it. Maca has been proven to increase a man’s sex drive, make sex more pleasant for postmenopausal women, improve a man’s sperm quality and put you and your partner into a better mood. So, if you’ve never had a good reason to try maca before, now you’ve got a few of ‘em.
8. Ginger Tea
Ginger is another popular spice that comes with some strong medicinal properties. That’s why a lot of people use it to treat motion sickness, keep their blood pressure in check, help keep cancer cells at bay, and to reduce bodily inflammation.
Since ginger is also seen as being a natural stimulant that increases blood circulation while reducing oxidative stress, it’s just one more tea that can help your sex life out. Oh, and if you’re trying to get pregnant, that’s another reason to add it to your diet. That’s because the properties of ginger can improve the quality of sperm while also strengthening ovarian follicles. How dope is that?
9. Rose Tea
If you’ve always wondered what rose tea is made from, you can literally create it yourself by steeping fresh rose petals. As far as the reasons why it can be good for your health, rose tea is high in vitamins C and E, it contains properties that help to lower your blood pressure, the polyphenols in it can help to reduce pain and discomfort, it can help to keep your skin radiant and your hair healthy and it’s a great immunity booster.
And why would your sex life appreciate it so much? Rosewater, period, helps to decrease stress and increase blood flow. The calmer you are and the more blood that’s flowing to your genital regions, the better your sexual experiences can be!
10. Spearmint Tea
Off the rip, one of the things that I like about any mint tea is it can help to make my breath smell fresher. When it comes to spearmint specifically, it gets applause for also treating motion sickness and nausea, lowering blood pressure levels and even improving your memory. Some other things worth noting are the fact that spearmint tea helps to fight bacterial infections and decrease the pain that’s related to arthritis.
Sex-wise, because spearmint tea is a stress reducer, it can also help you to feel calm and relaxed. And, since it also is known to be a hormone balancer, it can make getting in the mood easier when you’re PMS’ing or you’re going through menopause.
11. Ginseng Tea
If there’s any herb on this list that you probably already knew was good for your libido, ginseng would have to be it. We’ll get to why in just a moment. For now, let’s tackle some other reasons why you should consume it more (or more often).
Ginseng helps to do everything from reducing fatigue and fighting inflammation to improving brain function and strengthening your immune system. In fact, if you feel a cold coming on, a few cups of ginseng, very early on, can help to knock it right on out.
Your sex life will appreciate ginseng because it’s another tea that helps to treat erectile dysfunction by reducing oxidative stress that may be lurking around in a man’s blood vessels (especially in the ones down below). Ginseng is also a winner because it can give women more energy to even want to have sex. Definitely something to keep in mind on the days after work when you want some, but you need a pick-me-up to get the engines started (if you know what I mean).
12. Horny Goat Weed Tea
I mean, for real, though, anything that has the word “horny” in it must work…at least a lil’ bit, right? Believe it or not, horny goat weed (also known as Epimedium) is popular in the traditional Chinese medicine world and has been linked to helping people who deal with asthma, osteoporosis, PMS and Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s Diseases.
BY FAR (and yes, I am yelling it), what it’s best known for is getting bedrooms in check. It’s got a great reputation for naturally treating ED (which is why it has the nickname “natural Viagra”). It contains phytoestrogens which is a plant-based form of estrogen (which can help with natural vaginal lubrication, for starters). It can also balance out your cortisol levels (your natural stress hormone) and strengthen your libido. So, if feeling horny is what you want to do, horny goat weed can make that happen — and then some, chile.
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- 10 "Uncommon" Teas You Should Add To Your Stash (& Why) ›
- Here's How To Increase Vaginal Lubrication. Naturally. ›
- 8 Teas That Are Really Good For Your Vaginal Health ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Janelle Monáe's Reveals The Real Reason Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Tuxedos
Singer and actress Janelle Monáe exemplifies how change can be a powerful catalyst for growth and transformation.
Monáe, who rose to fame in 2010 following the release of her debut album, The ArchAndroid, captivated fans' hearts with her powerful vocals, catchy tunes, and style. Around that time period, when various female artists were known to wear provocative ensembles on stage, the "Tightrope" songstress set herself apart by wearing her signature black and white suits and continued to do so for almost a decade.
In the later years of her career, after the release of her studio albums The Electric Lady in 2013 and 2018's Dirty Computer, many began to notice the shift in Monáe's artistry and fashion, which some widely praised.
Although the now 37-year-old rarely addressed the reason behind the transformation over the years, that would all change when Monáe sat down with radio personality Angie Martinez on her IRL podcast earlier this month.
During the interview, Monáe --who was promoting her latest album, "The Age of Pleasure"-- opened up about her mental health struggles, how she would cope, and why she chose to live in freedom.
Janelle On Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Suits All the Time
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In the May discussion, the "I Like That" vocalist revealed she suffers from anxiety, which she claimed would occur around "winter to spring."
Monáe added that when she has her bouts with anxiety, she tends to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Further in the interview, the "Lipstick Lover" singer disclosed that her emotional eating habits caused a weight fluctuation and that she could no longer fit into the suits she once wore earlier in her career.
Monáe explained that even though she tried to diet and exercise to return to her smaller figure, she ultimately stopped and made peace with herself with the help of therapy because she acknowledged that she isn't the same person she was nearly a decade ago and shouldn't try to be even if it was a highly "celebrated" version.
"I'm petite, but it can get thick... When I couldn't fit them suits anymore, and I was like, 'Oh my God, what is going on?' I would be dieting, running, or exercising, trying to fit into [it]. I'm just like, 'No. No, we're here. This is where we are.' We [are] not about to be utilizing life trying to be an old version of ourselves. No matter how celebrated that version of me was. I'm here. I'm here," she said.
Janelle On Freedom
As the topic shifted to freedom and what that meant to Monáe, the "Primetime" vocalist shared that in this new era of her life, she enjoys it because she can boldly express herself however she wants and honor who she is as a person right now.
Monáe also revealed that she had found ways to become a better artist and the best version of herself because of her freedom.
"What is the new version of freedom? What does that feel like? That's usually when I feel the most free is when artistically, I can honor exactly who I am right now," she stated. "I feel most free as a human when I can honor exactly who I am right now."
Monáe's fourth studio album, The Age of Pleasure, is set to be released on June 9.
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