B.J. Smith: Umi Says/Runnin’ (NuNorthern Soul)
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UK release date 28.01.2013
Continuing on the current trend of covering old tracks, Benjamin James Smith was set the task of reinterpreting two famous old hip hop tracks and giving them a totally different direction and flavour.
Dante Terrell Smith (no relation) aka Mos Def needs no introduction on this famous magazine’s website. One of his biggest hits was ‘Umi Says’ from around 2007 and wasn’t your typical hip hop track. Featuring more of a jazz bass line than hip hop, the track carried itself with some delightfully mellow lyrics that really set it apart from its rawer compatriots of the day. They also really brought out just how good Mos Def’s voice is.
B.J. Smith has retained the mellowness of the original, but has somehow made it more mellow and filled with a warmth of sunshine. Slow guitar plucks, a lovely filter on the chorus plus a great loop of ‘shine your light on the world, shine your light for the world to see you’ is what the track opens with before the very low key hats and discreet kick introduce themselves. I had to check the original of this on You Tube and compare lyrics as this cover really is so, so different.
But for all of you festival goers…I’m thinking Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival in Sète, my favourite Croatian soiree SuncéBeat, Turkey’s SunSplash and many, many more that play a good standard of non-commercial music…hold tight; this is surely going to be THE anthem of all of them next year. It really is an absolutely deadly piece of music, in a very good way and already, I love it!
The Pharcyde’s Runnin’ (produced by Jay Dilla) gets the treatment next and again Benjamin totally moves the goal posts and comes up with something that is so far from the original, but still sounds ace.
I’m not going write anything else about these two tracks, as when you listen to them you’ll understand why I’m just a little bit crazy about them.
For that reason, I’m also going to do something I think I’ve only done 3-4 times since I started writing for Blues and Soul in May 2011. I’m going to give them full marks, a rare 10 out of 10 which I don’t often give out!
You can listen to the tracks here: bit.ly/BJSmith_Sampler
A limited run of 10” vinyl can be pre-ordered here too: http://mynunorthernsoul.bandcamp.com
A superb release that will be heard across many continents over the forthcoming year.
Words GARETH MORGAN