4. Janelle Monae Feat. Wondaland Arts Society - "Hell You Talmbout"
Key Lyrics: "Trayvone Martin, say his name! // Trayvone Martin, won't you say his name?"
Lyrically, Janelle Monae and company's musical outcry against police brutality is about as simple as they come. Each verse is dedicated to three different unarmed black men or women who were shot to death by police officers. Together, they chant each person's name, and then demand that listeners also "say their name."
Buoyed by an equally simple, almost tribal drumline, "Hell You Talmbout" -- which, if you haven't guessed, is an abbreviated version of the phrase "what the hell are you talking about?" -- feels more like a street-level anthem created by protestors on the fly. It has a raw energy that makes the song imperfect -- voices crack and the rhythm hiccups occasionally -- and is all the more powerful for it.
The song's message is two-fold. 1) Don't forget that the victims of these controversial police shootings were people, not just statistics, and 2) It's important to remember these men and women long after the 24-hour news cycle moves onto the next victim de jour.