Living Colour Cover Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya,” Set to Release Mixtape EP in September
Living Colour have always had a way of gracefully getting to the heart of the most important issues. From “Open Letter To a Landlord,” a barb at money-grubbing NYC real estate owners that foretold the massive wave of gentrification soon to envelop the city, to “Flying,” a heart-breaking story of would-be lovers’ last moments after the planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11, one of Brooklyn’s best and longest running metal bands has never shied away from difficult topics, and they’ve always done so with the utmost tact.
So it’s no surprise at all that Living Colour have taken on gun violence and police brutality in America’s black communities for their latest project, an EP called Mixtape that features a reinvention of the Notorious B.I.G. track “Who Shot Ya” and a series of remixes of the same. The main track was produced by Andre Betts and includes guest verses by Chuck D., Prodigal Sunn, Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch and Kyle Mansa.
Says guitarist Vernon Reid:
Our version of ‘Who Shot Ya’ was initially an organic outgrowth of pure fandom for the work of the brilliant Christopher Wallace. Corey would frequently sing the song during soundcheck, so we worked it up. But tragically Biggie’s question has taken on new and urgent significance over the last year. The amount of people who die on a daily basis because of gun violence is unacceptable in a civilized society. The disproportionate use of deadly force in communities of color is equally unacceptable in a civilized society. It inspired the idea to reach out to some of the most provocative voices in hip-hop to invite them to add their words to the track. We all feel paralyzed as to how we can meaningfully effect change, but at the least we can keep our voices raised in solidarity and not let this plight fade into the background until it happens again.
Not only is this track a perfect song for the times, but it’s musically on point, too; LC have done a fantastic job of injecting their signature style while retaining the character of the original. Check out the stream below via Pitchfork.
Living Colour are currently putting the finishing touches on their first new full-length studio album in seven years, Shade, which is planned for an early 2017 release.