The musician explained that he shared his rendition of Gaye’s plea for peace track after repeated viewings of Spike Lee’s Vietnam veteran war film Da 5 Bloods.
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Dedicating the song to his father, OLU wrote in an op-ed accompanying the rendition for DJ Booth that he hopes “greed and hate die”, in an apparent reference to the divisions Gaye sang about in his anti-war song from the ’70s.
“I hope that greed and hate die; they’re diseases,” OLU wrote in part of the op-ed. “They run rampant across the globe, causing untold hardship for the human race and mother nature. These are the perfect breeding grounds for institutional racism. Stripping opportunities and quality of life away from a group of people simply because they are different or to profit, hurts entire nations and causes countries to crumble in ruin.”
He continued: “They say you can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats children and the elderly. Two of the most vulnerable populations on this planet are abused, mishandled, overlooked, and left to fend for themselves.”
In the clip of the cover OLU is seen performing the song from a bedroom that has a small recording studio set-up installed.
OLU (real name Johnny Venus) is one half of the duo EarthGang with WowGr8 (aka Doctur Dot, born Eian Parker). The pair released their first major label album ‘Mirrorland‘ last year on Dreamville, Interscope, and Spillage Village.
In a four-star review, NME‘s Kyann-Sian Williams wrote: “With jazzy licks and intricate concepts, they could become the next Outkast.”