Can we talk about how Black –please note the uppercase “B”– 2016 has been? Be it our president inviting rappers into The White House and creating late night playlists, athletes managing to break Olympic records without causing international incidents, and increased representation in spaces that once seemed off limits, there have been some pretty big victories to go along with some of the sadness as we hit the 75% mark in 2016. You can add this to the win column: Black Thought, the rappingest rapper that ever rapped, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Pharoah Monche, Prodigal Sunn of Wu-Tang affiliate Sunz of Man, and Kyle Mansa all connect with funk metal legends Living Colour to remix their cover of The Notorious B.I.G.’s scathing mixtape banger “Who Shot Ya.”
The results are are like a collage made of smaller more intricate collages.
Living Colour made a name for themselves in the late ’80s and early ’90s by blending genres like metal, funk, jazz, blues, and hip-hop into something no one had heard before. This time they employ some of those sounds, including a dancehall twist at the end, as they flip “Who Shot Ya,” from Biggie’s sinister warning to his enemies, into a scarier critique of the police killings and gun violence that plague the black community.
With a roster of performers who each have unique styles and approaches, the end result is surprisingly cohesively and legitimately dope.
On September 9, Living Colour will release an EP entitled mixtape, which is a collection of remixes to their original cover of “Who Shot Ya.” Check out Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid’s statement about the track and its inspiration below:
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.