This week’s From The Vault pick was released in 2001 and is quite literally what “Urban-Pop dreams” are made of. We present you Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On?’ by ensemble cast Artists Against AIDS Worldwide.
The project, which consisted of numerous remixes of the Pop-Culture landmark (each time featuring different vocalists), was helmed in a bid to raise funds for AIDS programs in Africa and other poverty-stricken territories. Though recorded prior the 9/11 tragedy, the track was released in October 2001 and saw 50% of its profit also going to the United Way’s 9/11 fund (with the half going to the AIDS relief effort).
Featuring an All-Star line-up of 2001’s finest acts, two radio versions made the rounds. Both produced by Bono and Jermaine Dupri, they saw acts such as Destiny’s Child, Britney Spears, Usher, *N’SYNC, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Nelly, Ja Rule, Jennifer Lopez, Lil Kim, Nas, Wyclef Jean, TLC, Nelly Furtado, Backstreet Boys, Diddy, Gwen Stefani, Mary J.Blige, Eve and Monica to name but a few, trade verses and lines. Marvin’s daughter, Nona Gaye, is also featured aptly singing the “father, father” line.
Without any promotion, the song managed to peak at #27 in the US and an impressive #6 on the UK charts.
The videos, cooked up courtesy of Jake Scott, depict the artists as they remove “labelled” blindfolds from their eyes, symbolizing how society is blinded by prejudice and how we need to open our eyes… which ties in perfectly with the original message of the masterpiece of a track that is ‘What’s Going On?‘
It’s happenings like this one that make “Pop” (in the broader sense) one of the most exciting genres in mainstream music. In addition to being a tremendous initiative to raise awareness about AIDS and give back to the American Red Cross, it had the huge selling point of featuring all the top artists of that time on a single track – in similar fashion as Bob Geldof‘s Band Aid and Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie‘s USA For Africa – providing the genre’s enthusiasts with a glimpse of what their favorites acts would sound like together, also serving up some odd pairings that, somehow, “work”.
Great track for a great cause!
With this gem being recorded over a decade ago and the industry constantly changing, we’d like to know…
Is your ‘fave’ still relevant?
Bonus: Peep the video for JD’s R&B remix after the jump…