John Legend and The Roots: Our Generation
Raphael Saadiq: It’s a Shame
Both from Levi’s Pioneer Sessions

These two come from Levi’s “Pioneer Sessions” series where they ask different artists to cover the songs that influenced them. Cool idea though, in my opinion, with uneven results. I really didn’t think the Legend/Roots’ cover of Ernie Hines’ “Our Generation” worked here. I’m always on the fence with Legend’s vocals – sometimes he does a great job with it, other times, it doesn’t quite work and alas, I feel like “Our Generation” goes too far in that latter direction.

Saadiq covering The Spinners is better if only because he doesn’t try to overpower the track. It’s a very loyal cover and if anything, Saadiq is too understated in tackling vocals that G.C. Cameron did a monster job on. I might just be biased – “It’s a Shame” is one of my favorite Motown songs and one of Stevie Wonder’s crowning compositions (would have loved to here him sing it!). The song instrumental is practically unchanged from the original,

From the same series, Nas covers Slick Rick.




  1. Love both tracks, thought JL did a pretty good job on “Our Generation”.

  2. OW, thanks for hepping me to this.  Some great work from all the artists on this set.  Kudos to Levi’s for organizing this project.

  3. OW – while I share your reservations about JL, I thought this track was ok. I don’t know…I wonder sometimes if it’s how he/they engineer his vocals -it’s like there’s a buffer between him and the audience, holding back the raw element that, for me, comes through in Saddiq’s cover.

    And I must add: It’s a Shame is one of my favourite tracks of all time. The melody, the instrumentation, the recording…it’s soooooo far ahead of the pack. And the cover is great…listen to that kick!!! I can see the bass drum skin rippling.

  4. Reminder: People are welcome to disagree with my opinion so long as it’s done respectfully. Ad hominem attacks will be treated accordingly. 

  5. If you want to listen to some real (& really good) music check out Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project.  There are a ton of guests like Dave Matthews, John Legend, Pink, Seal, plus more.  It’s truly amazing, listen:

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