This has to be one of the best songs/videos of the year and it’s only February! I am not saying that lightly. This record has so many elements of musical perfection, lyrical inflection. And if the song is “ear candy”, then the visuals are “eye candy” as well. Where to begin.
First of all, press play and listen to the song as you are reading this. The song blends genres so well, starting off with a classical feel of strings, French horn and timpani. When the beat drops, the drum kit is so deep and soulful, kicks so hard,Â claps and snaps so crispy, your head is instantly nodding to the funk fueled Hip Hop. Pharoahe slides right in with flow, immediately rhyming “Lord Jesus” with “Chest just might freeze up” referring to his lifetime struggle with Asthma.
While this is going on the screen is filled with images of a young boy playing in the park, the photography vivid enough to make every tree feel familiar. He wears a double breasted vintage leather jacket, the kind no child in present day wears, but I have known Pharoahe to be partial to a double breasted jacket or two. Hmm… is it Pharoahe as a child? What is the story, the metaphor, the hidden symbolism?
The director creates a movie with lenses and sunlight, back and forth between Pharoahe gasping for breath in the studio and young Pharoahe climbing a tree. A studio which has the look and feel of a church, plus that’s where the singers are taking us to. Filled with musicians – Melamachinko singing and Jean Grae, just being there, smoking, sharing the moment.
Jill Scott steps to the mic, adding to the background vocals for a moment, then goes in and starts to blow. The plushness ofÂ the beat, the touching scene of a boy climbing the tree, the rhythm and flow, the soulful notes and spiritual words coming from Jill Scott are almost too much to bear. Â But you can’t stop looking at the screen.
Who is the girl? Why does no one but Pharoahe seem to see that she is in the room? Is she a spirit? Perhaps an angel? The angel of death come to claim the asthmatic MC or is she there for the boy? It is both surreal and nostalgic at the same time, like when characters glide across the screen in a Spike Lee movie.
[Video after the jump]
Is the song Classical? Jazz? Hip Hop? Soul? Gospel? The answer is simple. The song is Art. From the first violin to the closing runs on the piano. And for any hater who ever dares to say that MC’s are not artists and don’t make “art”, put on this video for them and simply walk away.
RBMH presents an AWESOME PICTURES production,
PHAROAHE MONCH ft. JILL SCOTT, “STILL STANDING”
Directed by Terence Nance