Janelle Monáe Just Released a Chilling Black Lives Matter Protest Song

August 13th 2015

Jake Giles

After marching in Philadelphia to protest police brutality, Wondaland Records founder and recording artist Janelle Monáe, along with labelmate Jidenna, just unleashed a powerful call-to-arms for the #BlackLivesMatter movement called “Hell You Talmbout.”

“Talmbout” (slang for “what are you talking about?”) is a nearly seven-minute epic rooted firmly in the tradition of protest songs. The track acts as a chilling roll call of the lives lost due to police brutality, including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Sandra Bland.

The full Wondaland Records lineup contributes to the song, which features Janelle Monáe, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty, Jidenna, Roman GianArthur, and George 2.0. Each verse consists of the names of Black Americans who were victims of the horrific rise of police brutality and racially-charged murders in the U.S. The artists urge listeners to repeat their names and bring awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement, while reaffirming the need for change. The “Hell You Talmbout”’s six-minute and 41-second duration alone is a powerful and tragic reminder of just how many Black citizens have lost their lives.

Sonically, the song is stark and chilling, leaning primarily on a marching band beat. The rapid snares emit palpable aggression and frustration, while the spiritual chants act as segueways into each verse. The artists defiantly shout their assigned names with grit and force. Monáe, who takes the third verse of the song, posted the single cover on her Instagram along with an explanation of its origins:


A photo posted by Janelle Monáe (@janellemonae) on