Billy Ray Cyrus puts his own Kentucky spin on LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” on the second installment of his Singin’ Hills Sessions EPs. Subtitled Mojave — Cyrus cut most of the project in the Mojave Desert — the November 6th release assembles five new songs and covers, including LL Cool J’s 1990 hip-hop hit.
In Cyrus’s version, “Mama Said Knock You Out” becomes a string-instrument number, with a handclap rhythm and brooding background gang vocals. Cyrus sings-speaks the lyrics with his usual country gravitas, relishing the defiant opening line of “don’t call it a comeback.”
“I’ve always loved that song — as well as fellow Kentucky native, Muhammad Ali — and just the concept of persistence and believing in yourself,” Cyrus said in a statement. “Countrifying it was a joy and I feel like this song is the next segment of my circle following ‘Old Town Road.’”
The indefatigable Cyrus saw his profile rise yet again last year when he joined Lil Nas X for a remix of the country juggernaut “Old Town Road.” In January, he released The Singin’ Hills Session – Sunset.
“My dad always said, ‘If you don’t know what to do, stand still — the answer will come to you,’ and it seems like the universe might have been nudging us to find answers,” Cyrus said. “I’ve found that music is the way I’m able to connect with so many people and spread light, especially during live shows, but right now this music has become my relationship with the world outside my front door.”
Here’s the track list for Mojave:
1. “Mama Said Knock You Out”
2. “Ghost Dance”
3. “99 Single Wide”
4. “Holdin’ On”
5. “Good at Goodbyes”