Backed by a live band featuring rising Zimbabwe-born, Melbourne-based singer KYE, the Brooklyn rapper delivered a smooth cover of the classic ballad, which originally appeared on Mos Def’s 1999 solo debut Black On Both Sides.
In a post-performance interview, Joey revealed the track is “one of my favorite songs of all time.”
“It’s such a spiritual connection that I have to this song,” he shared. “I feel like I could almost relate to what Mos Def is speaking on. As an artist I can tell this was a song that wasn’t written. This was a song that truly just felt, you know what I’m saying? And that’s probably what I admired about it the most.”
Joey continued: “I think it’s one of those songs that immediately follows the experience that inspired it. Whether he spoke to his homie and went to the studio that same day or he went the next day or the week after, either way, you can tell that moment resonated with him deeply and it opened him up.”
“We have blocks emotionally, spiritually, mentally and this song just feels like a moment in Mos Def’s life where a block was lifted for him, you know what I’m saying? Because sometimes we feel like we need permission to share our light.”
Watch Joey’s cover of “UMI Says” up top, and check out his interview with Triple J below.