*With the release of their #BlackLivesMatter movement anthem “Hell You Talmbout,” Janelle Monáe and her Wondaland Records artists have taken it upon themselves to fully and vocally support the effort.
For Monáe, #BlackLivesMatter is a passionate endeavor that has found her aligning with local activists as well as using her music and lyrics to promote the movement and the “Today” show to voice how she feels.
Monáe’s support of #BlackLivesMatter took center stage during an interview with HuffPost Live on Friday (Aug. 21) as she touched on her involvement with the movement and why speaking out against injustice is her obligation, The Huffington Post reports.
“When things are going on in the community, they can count on us to speak up and say something and come to them directly,” she said. “We don’t come to the rallies as artists, we come as human beings.”
The movement especially hits home for Jidenna as he and his fellow Wondaland artists find strength and inspiration from families of victims who they look to lead #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations.
“We’ve been teaming up with local organizers in every city, so we don’t feel like we’re leading these marches, rallies or protests,” the singer told HuffPost Live host Karamo Brown. “It’s the families, first of all, who are leading all of us with the strength that they have. And then secondarily, it’s the organizers on the ground who are there every day on the front lines.”
Like Monáe, Jidenna sees the importance of #BlackLivesMatter. The “Classic Man” vocalist referenced his days teaching kids while noting the reaction of his former students each black death.
“I was in the classroom when certain names like Kimani Gray [and] Michael Brown came up, and I remember looking at the eyes of devastation. The kids were just hanging their heads down in despair, feeling like their entire nation was out against them,” he said. “And as artists, we believe that our duty is to give those people that much more power, that much more spirit to really get through the day and face those tough questions that are coming at them from the next generation.”
Regarding Wondaland’s new version of “Hell You Talmbout,” Deep Cotton band member Nate “Rockett” Wonder mentioned that the song, which shines a light on lives lost to police and vigilante violence, isn’t meant to focus on one group of people.
“The song in and of itself was always supposed to be a tool, a tool to empower,” he said in response to a viewer’s question about black transgender victims who were excluded from the lyrics of “Hell You Talmbout.” “And it wasn’t made to marginalize any community. It was meant to lift up the oppressed.”
Regarding those who created their own “#BlackTransLivesMatter remix” in response to “Hell You Talmbout,” the Wondaland artists had nothing but love.
“[That’s] exactly how it should be done,” Wonder said. “That is exactly what we hoped would happen, is that people would take this song, use it and make it their own. It’s not ours, it’s the community’s to own.”
To see Monáe, Jidenna and Wonder’s appearance on Huff Post Live, check out the video below: