The Red Hot nonprofit has been one of the music industry’s most important organizations in support of AIDS relief for more than three decades, releasing a series of unique tribute albums and other endeavors in support of research and treatment.
In observance of World AIDS Day (today, Dec. 1) and the 20th anniversary of its classic “Red Hot + Riot, a Tribute to Fela Kuti” — which features Sade, D’Angelo, Femi Kuti, Talib Kweli, Tony Allen, Nile Rodgers, Jorge Ben Jor, Meshell Ndegeocello and many others — the organization has made the album available for the first time on streaming platforms, remastered, along with two hours of bonus material including an unreleased cover of “Sorrow Tears & Blood” by Bilal, an acoustic version of “Trouble Sleep” with Baba Maal accompanied by the legendary kora player Kaouding Cissoko and an extended version of Sade’s “By Your Side” by Stuart Matthewman.
The original album had to be heavily edited to fit the time limit of a physical CD, so there is a wealth of bonus material including extended versions of many tracks; along with early mixes, acapellas, instrumentals and more.
The legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti died of causes related to HIV/AIDS in 1997, two years before Red Hot began the project. According to the announcement, the concept came from Questlove at sessions for Red Hot’s Gershwin tribute album, which included a collaboration between the Roots and Bobby Womack. Questlove suggested that Red Hot do a cover of Sly & the Family Stone’s 1971 album “There’s a Riot Goin On,” but were unable to secure the rights.
Red Hot secured the rights to Fela’s music as well as his master recordings, which allowed sampling as well as covering his songs. Questlove kicked things off with a superstar session at Electric Ladyland covering “Water Get No Enemy” led by D’Angelo and Fela’s son Femi Kuti. The band was a mix of the Soultronics (James Posner and Pino Pallodino along with D’Angelo and Questlove) and Femi’s band Positive Force. Niles Rogers, Macy Gray, and Erykah Badu joined the session, although Erykah’s voice did not make the final mix. Red Hot producer Beco Dranoff brought the legendary Brazilian artist Jorge Ben Jor to the session too late to join, but he recorded the basic track of what became “Shuffering and Smiling” in another room at Electric Ladyland overseen by producer Andres Levin .
As the announcement notes, the 20th anniversary is a cause for celebration, but also a sober reflection on the continued devastation of HIV/AIDS, particularly as Sub-Saharan Africa is disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 71% of people living with HIV, a devastating reality where 75% of global HIV related deaths and 65% of new infections occur. Of the 38.3 million people living with HIV worldwide, 27.3 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa. 7.8 million of the 27.3 million infected people are in South Africa, including about 6.3 million young adults and children. To put that in context, 11% of humans live there, but it accounts for over 71% of the global impact in terms of infections and mortality.
1. Fela Mentality (Intro) – Mixmaster Mike + Mario Caldato, Jr.
2. Kalakuta Show – Mixmaster Mike, Gift of Gab and Lateef (of Blackalicious)
3. Interlude: Live at Kalakuta – Posuma, Remedies, Taiwo, Segun, Tosin, Andres Levin
4. Shuffering and Shmiling – Dead Prez, Jorge Ben Jor, Talib Kweli, Jorge Ben, Bilal + Positive Force
5. Interlude: Gimme Shit – Mixmaster Mike + Mario Caldato, Jr.
6. Water No Get Enemy – D’Angelo, Femi Kuti, Macy Gray + Questlove featuring Roy Hargrove, Nile Rodgers, The Soutronics + Positive Force
7. Gentleman – Meshell Ndegeocello + Yerba Buena featuring Ron Blake
8. Tears + Sorrow – Common, Meshell Ndegeocello + Djelimady Tounkara
9. Shakara / Lady (Part One) – Cheikh Lô
10. Shakara / Lady (Part Two) – Cheikh Lô, Les Nubians, and Manu Dibango
11. Don’t Worry About My Mouth O – Monoaural (Kassin + Berna Ceppas)
12. Zombie (Part One) – Bugz in the Attic featuring Wunmi
13. Zombie (Part Two) – Bugz in the Attic featuring Nile Rodgers + Roy Hargrove + Money Mark
14. No Agreement – Tony Allen, Res, Ray Lema, Baaba Maal, Positive Black Soul + Archie Shepp
15. So Be It – Kelis
16. Interlude: This Is an Ashanti Proverb – Monoaural (Kassin + Berna Ceppas)
17. By Your Side – Sade (Cottonbelly Fola Remix – Edit)
18. Colonial Mentality – Yerba Buena + Lenine
19. Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am – Baaba Maal + Taj Mahal featuring Kaouding Cissoko + Antibalas
1. Intro: “This Is an Ashanti Proverb” (Full Version) – Monoaural (Kassin + Berna Ceppas)
2. By Your Side (Full Extended Cottonbelly’s Fola Mix) – Sade
3. Sorrow Tears and Blood (2022 Mix) – Bilal + Common + Zap Mama
4. Interlude: “The Secret of Life Is to Have No Fear” – Monoaural (Kassin + Berna Ceppas)
5. Shuffering + Shmiling (More Jorge/Fun Machine version) – Jorge Ben Jor + Dead Prez + Bilal + Positive Force
6. Interlude: “Don’t Worry About My Mouth-o” (Full Version) – Monoaural (Kassin + Berna Ceppas)
7. Kalakuta Show (Instrumental) – Mixmaster Mike
8. So Be It (Instrumental) – Kelis
9. Interlude: “This Is an Ashanti Proverb” (Slow) – Monoaural (Kassin + Berna Ceppas)
10. Trouble Sleep (Acoustic Version) – Baaba Mall + Kaouding Cissoko
11. Colonial Mentality (Instrumental) – Yerba Buena + Ron Blake
12. Studio Talk/Water Get No Enemy (Instrumental) – D’Angelo, Femi Kuti + Questlove featuring Roy Hargrove, Nile Rodgers, The Soutronics + Positive Force
13. No Agreement (Early Mix, Full Version) – Tony Allen, Res, Ray Lema, Baaba Maal, Positive Black Soul + Archie Shepp
14. Interlude: “Music Is A Spiritual Thing” – Fela Kuti
15. Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am (Full Taj Mahal Version) – Taj Mahal, Baba Maal, Kaouding Cissoko
16. Kalakuta Intro (Johnny Just Drop) – Fela Kuti
17. Kalakuta Jam – D.L. Taiwo, Remedies, Pasuma & Co.
18. Water Get No Enemy (Acapella) – D’Angelo, Femi Kuti, Questlove + Macy Gray