Fela Kuti, who died of HIV/AIDS-related complications in 1997, is one of a number of subjects Red Hot has spotlighted in an effort to destigmatize the conversation around the epidemic. Since 1990, the nonprofit has centered its work around diversity and access to healthcare resources, particularly for women and the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2002, AIDS-awareness nonprofit Red Hot released Red Hot + Riot: A Tribute to Fela Kuti. The album included covers of the Nigerian star’s music, by a wide range of artists such as D’Angelo, Questlove, Kuti’s son Femi Kuti, and more. Now, to honor World AIDS Day (December 1), Red Hot has shared the record on streaming platforms for the first time ever.
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 .Variety, Jem Aswad
In addition to “Sorrow Tears & Blood,” the remastered version of the album features an acoustic version of “Trouble Sleep” with Baba Maal and kora player Kaouding Cissoko, plus an extended version of Sade’s “By Your Side” by Stuart Matthewman.the Fader, David Renshaw