Living Colour - Who Shot Ya ? (2016)

My first contact with Living Colour took place at a time when music was for me a binary thing. There was Iron Maiden (Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was one of the two cassette tapes that consisted my record “collection” back then - the other one was Appetite for Destruction) and on the opposite side were “all the rest”. And this “all the rest” was including everything that the “evil” Music Industry was trying to enforce against the purity, truth and honesty of Heavy Metal…Of course in the microcosmos of a naive 15 year old “Metal Warrior” that I was at that time, there was no place for crossover bands like Living Colour. I still remember the cultural shock that was for me the video clip of Cult of Personality. There was the guitar work-so impressive-and that solo, omg…but something could not fit…was it the colourful clothes ,the haircuts, the activist lyrics and pictures, was it a subliminal racism in my mind..this I do not know…the sure thing was that it was something that I liked but I could definitely not digest…So I bypassed…Some years later during my university time when I was much more open minded and educated I was finally able to return and appreciate Living Colour but still even at that moment I never became a big fan (I always kept Vivid highly appreciated though). Not being aware of their whereabouts in the last years, I was really intrigued when I bumped into them again through Spotify’s recommendations. A quick search on internet showed that “Who shot ya?” is actually a mixtape (consisting of three new recordings, plus 6 remixes of the self-titled cover version of Notorious Big’s 1995 hit, plus three instrumental versions - that makes it 12 songs in total) which serves as pre-taste of their upcoming album Shade expected sometime in 2017. Activated by the frequent police shooting and domestic violence incidents that take place in US during the last years and having a self explanatory picture in the cover of the mixtape, Living Colour are expressing clearly once again their political message. The question that comes immediately to mind is if their music can support this. Well I think it does and actually very good…

Starting from the self titled song what immediately impresses, is the guitar work which transforms a hip hop song to a raging rocker. The vocals of Corey Glover remind the glorious days of the past and of course the rhythm section gives the characteristic groove that made Living Colour so distinct. Second song Regrets continues in the same great way. Guitar work that can compare to Hendrix’s, groovy rhythms and there you have it…a hard anthem that you can dance to it…Third song is another cover version, this time of “This Place Hotel” by The Jackson’s which is another ace in the E.P. The remaining 6 remixes of “Who Shot Ya?” sound equally interesting. Varying from EDM to Dub and having guest vocalists like Chuck D of Public Enemy, Prodigal Sunn, Black Thought of the Roots, Pharoahe Monch and Kyle Mansa, provide an extremely diverse result in the mixtape.

Concluding, this E.P. definitely made me anticipate for the upcoming album. Keep your ears (and your minds) open. If all songs are in the same level as Regrets then Shade is going to be one hell of an album.