SOAS professor collaborates in provocative Massive Attack EP ‘Eutopia’

The award-winning Bristolian band Massive Attack has released a firey new audio-visual EP in three tracks, each one featuring expert speeches and artists such as Algiers, Saul Williams and Young Fathers.

The EP was created during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is marked by growing political frustration towards UK responses to crises past, present and future.

“Lockdown exposed the best aspects and worst flaws of humanity,” Massive Attack asserted in a press release, and “forced us to meditate on the obvious need to change the damaging systems we live by.”

The key issues tackled in the tracks are the climate emergency, tax haven extraction and universal basic income. It is the latter of these which features SOAS professor Guy Standing, whose books ‘Battling Eight Giants’ and ‘Basic Income: And How We Can Make it Happen’ examine how feasible and effective basic income schemes are in contemporary society.

“Everyone needs basic economic security,” Standing can be heard explaining in the track to a backdrop of hopeful trip-hop vocals and electronic music by Massive Attack and Young Fathers.  

“That is a public good. And it would improve public health. A modest regular basic income paid to all individuals without condition would also boost demand for basic goods and services, kickstarting the real economy. While no panacea, basic income as a right would rescue millions from economic hardship, curbing homelessness, suicides, and starvation.”

The pandemic has moved the idea of a universal basic income toward the political centre, as sceptics realise that it might serve as an important safety net to those affected by the lockdown and as an effective way to keep the economy upright. It is unsurprising, then, that 2020 is the moment in which Standing’s ideas have been put to good music.

In an interview on the SOAS Blog, Standing commented that “the music and the message is reaching a large number of people… who need to be part of a crusade for justice and basic security.

“These are values steeped in SOAS history.”

It’s a welcome compliment for the unique London university, which is currently facing a financial crisis that can only be exacerbated by the pandemic.

Massive Attack’s ‘Eutopia’ EP, featuring Professor Guy Standing and Young Fathers.

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