Joey Bada$$ – When Thugs Cry
The music community lost a legend on April 21, 2016, when Prince tragically passed away. A pioneer in the industry, Prince changed the trajectory of multiple genres while simultaneously creating new ones. His eclectic, revolutionary and flamboyant style was cross-generational and enamored fans for almost 40 years.
As Jake Sully from Avatar said in the film, “One life ends, another begins.” Enter Joey Bada$$. The 23-year-old musician from Brooklyn has made a name for himself in the game as a rapper with hits like Survival Tactics and Devastated, but has recently branched out and expanded his portfolio by jumping into R&B. Personally, I’m glad he did, because this dude has got one hell of a voice.
When Thugs Cry pays homage to “When Doves Cry” by Prince and does not disappoint. In his own words (credit to Triple J): “To this day my mom is the biggest Prince fan, she always played Prince around the house, put me on to Prince at such an early age. Me and her we used to always sing “When Doves Cry” together, so I made my own version.”
Starting with a short but heart-pumping electric guitar riff, Joey Basa$$ honors the Prince classic while showcasing his vocal range. Launching straight into the chorus, as if to tell any hater who said he couldn’t sing to f-off, his voice is gentle enough to fit seamlessly on a Prince cover (and it doesn’t hurt having a female vocalist harmonizing beautifully with him), but also is uniquely nasally, which adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the track. A strong beat consisting of horns and an unyielding kick-drum is intermittently interlaced with a xylophone/triangle progression. Now if you’re sitting here thinking, “But Smogs, Joey Bada$$ is a rapper, not a singer, wtf is this?” I get it. But you’re wrong. He’s both. And he proves it by dropping multiple verses on this song. Maybe it’s time we start calling him the Prince of Rap.