standing on the corner escapes to outer space with “angel”

May 11, 2020

Whitey’s already on the Moon, Elon Musk has his sights set on Mars, and 45 has established Space Force, the “space warfare service branch” of the United States Armed Forces, because American militarism knows no bounds or borders. It seems like the Manifest Destiny mindset that has thrown the Earth out of whack is spreading to the stars — lucky for us Brer Soul is in space too, not looking for a place to conquer but a place to escape to.

In experimental jazz hip-hop collective STANDING ON THE CORNER’s new video for “Angel (Life and Death of the Earth in the Key of F)” we get the pioneering musician, filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles himself in a spacesuit floating amidst start and the blackness of outer space in search of deliverance. Like the Sweetback character he played in his record-breaking, X-rated 1971 film, the space-traveling Brer Soul in this video is a fugitive—a metaphor for the fugitive experience of Black people in an anti-Black world.

The song itself is the type of jazz-inflected abstraction we’ve come to expect from the everchanging SOTC Art Ensemble: reverberating guitars, percussion, triumphant horns, and woozy distorted vocals make for an otherworldly vibe that mirrors the imagined experience of floating through the cosmos weightlessly seeing heavenly bodies. This Afropessimistic zone out session is oddly appropriate for the times. Maybe the black hole ahead is a good thing maybe there is nothing to fear in its Nothingness …