Wondaland Artists: Taking “Hell You Talmbout” to the Streets

August 24, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


San Francisco

On August 23, 800 to 1000 people turned out to sing, chant, and march with the artists and family members of victims of police murder at the 24th Street & Mission BART (transit) Plaza in San Francisco.

Over the past week and a half in Philadelphia, NYC, Washington, DC, Chicago, LA, and the SF Bay Area, Wondaland recording artists Janelle Monáe, Jidenna, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty and Roman GianArthur broke out the powerful new song “Hell You Talmbout.”

Janelle Monáe: “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?”

These recording artists put a lot on the line to join rallies with Stop Mass Incarceration Network, their fans, and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Thursday, August 13, they hit Times Square in NYC, singing and chanting. The action was preceded by a press conference and speak-out featuring Janelle Monáe, Jidenna, and other Wondaland artists; Carl Dix, co-initiator of Rise Up October and representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party; and parents and other family members of youths whose lives have been stolen by police and have become activists in the movement to stop murder by police.


Los Angeles

On August 17, people headed for Millennium Park in Chicago as word went out. Signs came up—signs that named, remembered and honored those whose lives have been stolen by the police. Signs flashing the hashtags #RiseUpOctober and #HLYTB ("Hell You Talmbout") and signs demanding to know “Which Side Are You On?!” The mother of Justus Howell—a 17-year-old Black youth killed by police this April in Zion, Illinois—was in the crowd with other relatives holding a poster of her son. The Stolen Lives banner and a giant poster for the October 24 protest in NYC went up. The press was there and the event was on.

When the Wondaland artists arrived, the crowd parted and the artists stood behind the families of people whose lives were stolen by police. Each Wondaland artist spoke to why they were there. They said they wanted to take a stand against police terror and brutality. They were bringing their creativity and emotions to bear on their brand new song: "HELL YOU TALMBOUT! Walter Scott—say his name!...Michael Brown—say his name!…Sandra Bland—say her name!...” The crowd was right with them shouting people’s names.

Geneva Read-Veal spoke—her daughter Sandra Bland died in police custody in Texas after she was stopped for a minor traffic violation, brutalized, and arrested. Geneva said, “My baby is gone and we still don’t know what happened to her.”

As the artists went to get ready for their concert in the evening, the rest of the crowd, still singing, turned the other direction down a main artery of Chicago’s downtown “loop.”


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