Earlier this week, the Wondaland Arts Society, whose members include Janelle Monáe, St. Beauty, Jidenna, and Deep Cotton, staged a protest against police brutality on the streets of Philadelphia. “Hell You Talmout”, which they introduced at the protest and have now released on Soundcloud, honors victims of police brutality by chanting their names and demanding listeners to say them as well.
— Philly Student Union (@215studentunion) August 12, 2015
Wondaland issued a statement regarding the song: “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?”
A few weeks ago, Roxane Gay penned an op-ed in the New York Times titled “On the Death of Sandra Bland and Our Vulnerable Bodies.” At the piece’s conclusion, she references a line from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between The World and Me that declares the destruction of the black body as an American heritage and remarks: “I would take this bold claim a step further. It is also traditional to try and destroy the black spirit. I don’t want to believe our spirits can be broken.” “Hell You Talmbout” feels powerful and necessary. While paying respect to those bodies wrongfully taken away, Wondaland denies that the same happen to their spirits.
Wondland’s EP compilation The Eephus is out now on Epic.