More often than not, our conversations about artists and activism end with us wishing our faves would’ve kept it quiet.
Being loud and wrong has been a tough trend lately with so many celebrities exposing their ignorance and/or dissenting opinions, mostly via social media outlets. So with a group like Wondaland, with its founder Janelle Monae heavily associated with the legendary Outkast, filled with musicians like Jidenna and Deep Cotton, I’ve been praying hard that they never slip into that category. It’s a lifelong debate as to whether or not public figures should assume themselves to be role models as well; and often, it’s hit or miss. Being down for the cause looks different these days, so I’m always worried about Blackness and platforms, and people with influence taking advantage of the ripple effect.
Imagine my elation when I came across Wondaland Records‘ newest track “Hell You Talmbout.” First of all, I knew I loved it from the title alone. When I ask folks what they’re talking about via text message, that’s exactly how I inquire, spelling included. But the real magic happened when I pressed play: drums, choral elements, chanting, call and response vocals, all in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The majority of the protest song is made of several Wondaland members chanting the names of unarmed Black people killed, from Emmett Till to Sandra Bland, followed by the demand that we say their names.
Janelle Monae and Jidenna explain the song like this:
“This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters. We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves… Won’t you say their names?” — Janelle Monae
This song as a gesture of solidarity pretty important. When we look for heroes and big names to support this cause, I think it’s safe to say we can count on the Wondaland collective to be responsible. In addition to releasing “Hell You Talmbout,” Janelle and Jidenna led a march and rally through Philadelphia to protest police brutality. Take a listen to the protest track below, and make sure to keep up with the artists via Twitter and Instagram.