Joey Bada$$ Turns A Prince Classic Into A Cry To Stop The Violence (Video)

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UPDATE: Pro Era has released the official audio to “Thugz Cry”:

ORIGINAL JANUARY 18 STORY: Over the course of his career, Joey Bada$$ has shown himself to be absolutely fearless, when it comes to making music. When he burst onto the scene with his 2012 mixtape, 1999, he eschewed the Trap sound that was beginning to dominate Hip-Hop, in favor of the type of Boom Bap that emanated from his Brooklyn burrough in the 90s, from the likes of Black Moon and Biggie. Just when audiences tried to put him in a box, he slowed his flow and pumped up the bass on the more contemporary sounding “Devastated.” Then, in April 2017, as a sign o’ the times, he turned his pen to the ills of the world on his politically-charged album, All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$.

Now, after another set of scene-stealing appearances on TV show Mr. Robot toward the end of last year, Joey is back to the music, and his first release of 2018 comes by way of a live performance for Australian radio station, triple j. On the station’s “Like A Version” show, every week, guest artists play one of their own songs and a cover of a song they love. For Joey’s appearance, rather than do a straight-forward cover, he chose to re-work Prince’s “When Doves Cry” into a social commentary about gang violence, called “When Thugs Cry.”

With the studio lit in purple and a full band, Joey starts his performance off by singing in the same deep monotone Prince employs on the original. The lyrics and arrangement are completely different, however, save for the melody of Prince’s chorus. Joey sings his first verse, lamenting the ongoing effects of Black on Black violence. Just after the 2 minute mark, the Brooklyn MC unleashes a blistering second verse, where he raps from the perspective of outsiders looking in on the violence with both fear and disdain.

It’s a daring risk, but it is potent and well-executed.