Two years after Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats released “Survivor” on their album The Future, they are revisiting the track with help from rappers Jim Jones and Conway The Machine and producer Mike Cash. Check out a video for the new version of “Survivor” right here.
The collaboration between Rateliff and Cash goes back to 2019, when the producer began a multi-artist project called A Covenant with the aim of fusing together diverse styles of music. With help from mentor T-Bone Burnett, Cash brought together the Roots, Elvis Costello, Rateliff, Cassandra Wilson, DJ Premier, and others at a Catskills, New York studio.
“We created so much good content,” says Cash. “When you have all those people on a song, it’s fuckin’ dope. It’s genre-smashing music that we were just making for ourselves. We weren’t doing it to get any Top 40 hits or anything. We were just like, ‘Let’s go into the studio with people we really respect and make something different.’”
A Covenant was moved to the back burner once the pandemic hit and Burnett began focusing on other projects. But Ratefliff’s manager reached out to Cash in October 2022 to see if they could get back together and bring a hip-hop artist or two onto one of his recent songs. “He went, ‘Pick whoever you want,’” Cash says. “‘Here’s the song we want you to fuck with.’”
He gave him the Pro Tools file for “Survivor.” “I didn’t want to do it at first since I didn’t want to fuck with an existing piece of music,” says Cash. “I never want to mess with anyone else’s stuff. But they went, “‘Change it. Make it cool. Who do you want?’ I was doing stuff with Conway, and I knew Jim Jones forever. I was just like, ‘Do you want to do something cool?’ And they were like, ‘Fuck yeah!’”
Rateliff, Jones, and Conway convened at Cash’s studio. “I fuckin’ chopped the beat,” says Cash. “We put in spots for 16-bar verses for the guys to go in there and spit. And we hung out for like a day and a half. Everybody exchanged war stories, and talked about their background, how they got into music. They really clicked.’”
Rateliff brought his videographer in to chronicle the session. “A really cool video came out of it,” says Cash. “I was like, ‘If we’re all going to be together, let’s have a video showing us in the studio because people are going to think we just did this by bouncing files to each other. Let’s do a little behind-the-scenes video of us chilling.’”
The new version of “Survivor” is available today on Amazon Music, and it will hit streaming services in late April. There are no firm plans for future releases from Cash’s recent sessions, but he hopes people will get to hear the work in the near future. “When you work with T-Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, and Black Thought, the music is going to have a deep message,” says Cash. “It’s not for the faint of heart. But we’re making music as a collective. That’s my whole thing.”