Joey Bada$$ Delivers Dreamy Cover Of Mos Def’s ‘Umi Says’: Watch
The performance came as part of Australian radio station triple j’s Like a Version series, which has previously produced viral covers from Childish Gambino (Tamia “So Into You”), 6LACK (Erykah Badu “On & On”) and Denzel Curry (Rage Against the Machine “Bulls On Parade”).
For Joey’s “Umi Says” rendition, the Brooklyn rapper was joined by rising Zimbabwe-born, London-raised, Melbourne-based singer KYE along with a live band as he put a dreamy spin on Yasiin Bey’s spiritual ballad.
In an interview with triple j following the performance, Joey called “Umi Says” “one of my favorite songs of all time.” The original appeared on Mos Def’s critically acclaimed debut album Black On Both Sides, which has since been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
“It’s such a spiritual connection that I have to this song,” he said. “I feel like I could almost relate to what Mos Def is speaking on. As an artist I can tell this was a song that wasn’t written. This was a song that truly just felt, you know what I’m saying? And that’s probably what I admired about it the most.”
He continued: “I think it’s one of those songs that immediately follows the experience that inspired it. Whether he spoke to his homie and went to the studio that same day or he went the next day or the week after, either way, you can tell that moment resonated with him deeply and it opened him up.
“We have blocks emotionally, spiritually, mentally and this song just feels like a moment in Mos Def’s life where a block was lifted for him, you know what I’m saying? Because sometimes we feel like we need permission to share our light.”
Elsewhere during his visit to triple j, Joey Bada$$ performed his own hit “Show Me” off his latest album 2000, which he dropped last July.
The project debuted at No. 25 on the Billboard 200 chart and featured appearances from Diddy, Westside Gunn, J.I.D, Chris Brown, Larry June and Capella Grey.
The Pro Era MC added in his interview that a good cover comes down to personalizing the revamp, rather than just rehashing the original as many artists do.
“Me personally, I like to add my own part to the song, so for me that really takes it over the top,” he said. “You could do it in a way where everybody knows it and sings along, but then: ‘Boom! That’s a surprise.’”