As the stories, faces, and lives of the Orlando victims from Pulse become public, many social media users are taking to their platforms of choice to pay tribute to the 49 people who violently lost their lives early Sunday morning. Among the immense crowd of dedicators is Lamont Hicks, writer and co-creator of the popular YouTube parody series, The Legends Panel, which features several past and present music legends such as Madonna, Mariah Carey, and superstar siblings Michael and Janet Jackson, deeming which of today’s music stars will follow their lead as being new legends or icons.
On occasion, Hicks has been known to step away from TLP to work on other well-received projects, including his latest creation, Trump’d, a comedic series based on the sometimes hilarious (and mostly controversial) comments and thoughts of presidential candidate Donald Trump; Madonna Dearest, a spin-off effort with VH1 and TLP co-creator Phabian Mitchell that saw the “Material Girl” answer questions from her adoring public, and a collection of videos featuring the best of today’s LGBT ballroom scene. He has also used his talent to compile several videos to promote his favorite entertainer, the aforementioned Janet Jackson, in ways that allows those who are unfamiliar with her career to learn and respect the path that she created for the many who have followed since her solo music introduction in the 1980s.
In an effort to bring forth healing following the Orlando Pulse massacre, Hicks combed through many hours of news coverage to put together an unofficial lyric video to a powerful song from Jackson’s latest album, Unbreakable. The tune, titled “Shoulda Known Better,” is one that seemingly melds the collective voice of those who have grown ever tired of the negative and violent occurrences that seem so commonplace nowadays.
“Headlines are real or just the news, between the lines there’s human truth,” Jackson sings. “I guess I shoulda known better. Part of the revolution, ready for real solutions.”
Hicks says he was moved to make the video after seeing Mina Justice, mother of the slain Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, sharing the texts she received from her son as murderer Omar Mateen made his way into the bathroom where Eddie and several other Orlando victims hid.
“Reading the last texts of Eddie Justice completely devastated me,” he expresses. “I just kept putting myself in his shoes, in those final moments — in all of [the Orlando victims’] shoes, really. I’ve feared something like that happening when I’ve been in gay clubs. We’re too vulnerable to sick individuals that want to harm us for simply living our truth.”
Also included in the video are the faces and names of the 46 other victims whose identities have been released to the public thus far. As Jackson pleads, “why, why, why, why?” they pop up one at a time, almost as if the singer herself is questioning the reasons for their untimely deaths. Longtime collaborator Jimmy Jam spoke about the meaning behind the aural call to social justice back in October 2015.
“When you’re young, you feel like, ‘I can change the world! I’m going to lead the revolution,'” he said to the BBC News. “And then you look 25 years later [after the Rhythm Nation 1814 album] and you go,’OK, I should have known better.’ The same problems still exist, but there’s a different way to go about tackling it. It still involves mobilizing people, but [she] can’t do it by myself.”
Hicks added that there was one specific lyric of “Shoulda Known Better” that simply wouldn’t leave his mind following the news of the massacre.
“Just can’t feel casual about casualties,” he relayed. “It’s weighed heavy [on my mind] since it happened. I had to express how I felt.”
There is currently no word on when the public will learn of the identities of the final two Orlando victims.
[Photo by Rick Rycroft/AP Photos]