Joey Badass puts a unique spin on an unexpected classic with “Thugs Cry,” a stop-the-violence ode to street life that lifts the hook to Prince’s 1984 Purple Rain hit, “When Doves Cry.”
Replacing “Doves” with “Thugs” isn’t the only change. Joey contemplates street-oriented gang violence, repurposing the “maybe I’m just like my father” refrain to highlight the familial nature of street violence, flipping it into “maybe I’m just like my brother.” “Why do we shoot up each other?” he questions, further lamenting the cycles of violence that often claim the lives of youth who have more in common than conflict.
Joey’s conscious turn with All-Amerikkkan Badass has proved to be a lasting career evolution. While never one to hide his influences, Badass has worn them on his sleeve more than ever, first paying homage to Jay-Z and Nas in a live performance of his song “Amerikkkan Idol,” and now giving the Purple One some much-appreciated posthumous props.
However, he’s also shown a willingness to embrace change and compromise on his boom-bap-centric, East Coast style, recently garnering a No. 1 hit for his help in penning Post Malone’s 21 Savage-featuring hit, “Rockstar.” He acknowledged his writing role on Twitter, promising more to come. Whether that means branching out more with his own style or secretly scribing trap hits for others, “Thugs Cry” proves he has the versatility and honesty to do both.