Janelle Monáe has been a vocal supporter of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, joining forces with local activists, pushing for change with her powerful lyrics and even delivering an impromptu speech about the platform's issue on NBC's "Today" show (even if it was cut short).
In an interview with HuffPost Live on Friday, Monáe discussed her involvement with the movement and why she feels it's her obligation to speak out against injustice.
"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."
Wondaland artist Jidenna said that he and his labelmates look to victims' families to lead the 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," Jidenna told 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."
Jidenna, who was a teacher and an organizer before his hit "Classic Man" graced the airwaves, shared how the news of each black death affected his former students.
"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."
Nate "Rockett" Wonder, from the band Deep Cotton, spoke about Wondaland's new version of "Hell You Talmbout," which has been hailed as a protest anthem and spotlights the lives that have been lost to police and vigilante violence. When a viewer asked about the black transgender victims that were excluded from the lyrics, Wonder clarified the intentions behind the song.
"The song in and of itself was always supposed to be a tool, a tool to empower. And it wasn't made to marginalize any community. It was meant to lift up the oppressed," he said.
Wonder and the other artists also applauded the organizers who created their own "#BlackTransLivesMatter remix" in response to the song.
"[That's] exactly how it should be done," he 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."
Watch the HuffPost Live interview with Janelle Monáe and her Wondaland labelmates here.
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