The album was released on April 27, 2018. It was supported with the simultaneous release of a 46-minute short film of the same name, dubbed an "emotion picture" by Monáe. It follows Monáe's android character, Jane 57821, as she attempts to break free from the constraints of "a totalitarian society [that] forcibly makes Jane comply with its homophobic beliefs...In the film, Monáe's character is trying to assert her individuality, which makes her the enemy of a soulless regime – a common tension in dystopian sci-fi." Actress Tessa Thompson and actor Jayson Aaron co-star as Zen and Ché respectively, lovers with whom Jane escapes "the clutches of this repressive society." Tim Grierson of Rolling Stone described that, in the film, "Monáe plays with the conventions and totems of dystopian sci-fi to speak her truth and promote a cultural shift toward a more inclusive and loving society – no matter what repressive government (whether real or fictional) is trying to crush that spirit. Monáe is speaking to the present, but for her, the future is now."