A new tribute album in the "Red Hot" AIDS benefit series is in the works, this time celebrating the music of the late Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who passed away in 1997 after contracting the disease.
An all-star recording session earlier this month at New York's Electric Ladyland studios featured Macy Gray, D'Angelo, Common, the Roots' ?uestlove, Nile Rodgers, James Poyser, Pino Palladino, brass and percussion group Africa 2000, and Kuti's son Femi, among others.
The ensemble recorded the classic Fela track "Water No Get Enemy" (from 1975's "Expensive Sh**") with D'Angelo and ?uestlove (a.k.a. Ahmir Khalib Thompson) handling production duties.
A spokesperson for the Red Hot AIDS Charity Trust told MTV News that it expects to issue the song as a single on World AIDS Day, December 1, and that it hopes to release the full album, titled "Red Hot + Riot," early in 2001. The spokesperson added that a second track, "Shuffering and Shmiling,"
is underway, featuring Dead Prez, Money Mark, jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and famed Brazilian performer Jorge Ben (now known as Jorge Ben Jor).
The charity has previously organized a number of well regarded compilations beginning with 1990's "Red Hot + Blue," which featured the music of Cole Porter. Other LPs include the George Gershwin compilation "Red Hot + Rhapsody," the genre albums "Red Hot + Rio" and "Red Hot + Country," and the alt-rock comps "No Alternative" and "Red Hot + Bothered," among others.
Fela Kuti died of AIDS complications in 1997 at the age of 58 (see "Afro Beat Activist Fela Succumbs").