By now most of you probably guessed that I wasn't much into the John Legend/Roots rendition of "Wake Up." This springs from a few places. First and foremost, I don't have much interest in The Roots minus Black Thought. I am bias as Black Thought makes my Top Five, all-time, and without him, I feel like The Roots are really just a good band. I've also never been particularly moved by John Legend. He's got a pleasing voice, and I like "Save Room," but he's never quite hit me. So maybe I'm just too biased.
It's interesting because hip-hop, in many cases, is nothing more than genre of truly radical, chopped-up covers. In the best instances they can add edge to a song that was lacking one, or more often, uncover new edges, new ways of seeing. I think most covers that fail lack that quality of revelation. Which brings me to my favorite "cover" of all time. Below is Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s "Player's Anthem." I don't think the song has aged that well--though Big is nasty as ever. What has aged well is DJ Premier and Jeru The Damaja's meta-commentary or the whole on Junior Mafia and the whole player phenomenon. I can't say the same for the video.
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