BEST NEW TRACK: MOSES SUMNEY - RANK & FILE

8/9/18
Moses Sumney - Rank & File

Moses Sumney made a name for himself by crafting experimental soul music which often sounded like it had arrived here from a different dimension. But on “Rank & File,” the closing track off his new EP Black in Deep Red, 2014, he follows the well worn tradition of protest songs.

Derived from his experience attending a demonstration in Los Angeles following a grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who shot Michael Brown, Sumney takes aim at the epidemic of police violence and the militarization of forces across the nation.

The backing choral vocals give an added sense of weight to the proceedings. Part gospel hymn, part rallying cry for the masses, Moses is just the latest voice to remind us that some of those who run forces are the same that burn crosses.

“I don’t care what I’ve been told, police state is much too cold,” he croons on the chorus. Later on he drops the C, in case people think this overt, state-sanctioned racial violence is somehow new or a result of the people who are currently in power.

Despite the songs blunt, straight-forward nature, Sumney manages to add layers of mystery and intrigue. The line “Say protect and serve us, but murder’s not service,” in particular works on a multitude of levels. On the one hand it’s an obvious statement condoning the abuse of power. Yet it also calls to mind deeper questions about the role of police, like whether or not their job is to actually protect people, and who exactly their use of force and imprisonment is serving.

The whole song is a powerful statement, a call to action. One deserving of a worthy response.

 

MOSES SUMNEY - RANK & FILE

Given the current state of the shit show we call America, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by this convulsion of crises. Whether it’s police officers getting paid vacation for shooting unarmed citizens, toddler internment camps, or some new horror show I’ve missed while writing this, our country is in a disastrous state.

Some weary souls have suggested that this, the business of killing minority citizens, or the needles torture of innocents for policy goals that remain unarticulated, is not who we are.

As a former history teacher I would suggest this is actually who we’ve always been since before we were even a country.

Whether or not it is who we continue to be is a question all of us will play a role in answering.

Be sure to read the lyrics to  "Rank & File" on your way out.

They in soldier mode, they in toy soldier mode right now
They can’t move they hands off they sticks
Cuz they a buncha cowards

Watch them assemble
Looking for trouble
March in formation
March for our nation

Now I don’t care what I’ve been told
(Hey, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
This police state is much too cold
(Hey, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Cut from crooked cloth and mold
(Hey, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
This police state is much too old
(Hey, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Puppets, erect
With batteries set
They charge for a while
And fall right into rank and file
When they forget
That we cut the checks
They get really riled
And fall right into rank and file

They fall right into rank and file
They fall right into rank and file
Fall right into rank and file
They fall right into rank and file

Now watch how they tremble
Without credential
Orders they follow
Skin deep and hollow
Their governing master
To their hip is plastered
Say protect and serve us
But murder’s not service

Now i don’t care what I’ve been told
(Hey, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
To kill so quick is animal
(Hey, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Now i don’t care what they might say
(Hey, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
It’s gon’ come back around one day
(Hey, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Puppets, erect
With batteries set
They charge for a while
And fall right into rank and file
When they forget
That we cut the checks
They get really riled
And fall right into rank and file

They fall right into rank and file
They fall right into rank and file
Fall right into rank and file
They fall right into rank and file
Fall right into rank and file
They fall right into rank and file
Fall right into rank and file
They fall right into rank and file

If we make you nervous
What is your purpose
Worship your trigger
And ignore the figures

You’re tumblin’ into rank and file, and
Crumblin’ into rank and file, and
Stumblin’ into rank and file, and
Mumblin’ into rank and file
You’re humblin’ into rank and file, and
Fumblin’ into rank and file
You’re tremblin’ into rank and file
And fall right into rank and file

soundcloud

Calvin Paradise is not any one thing. The half-hearted vagabond and forgetful luddite currently resides in Los Angeles and how he spends his time is none of your damned business.