You remember Red Hot + Riot, the compilation of remakes of Fela Kuti's music put together by the Red Hot Organisation (the ones responsible for the (RED) products, e.g. iPod RED) as a fundraising and AIDS awareness tool back in 2002? It featured more than three dozen artistically credible artists - D'Angelo, Sade Adu, Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, Femi Kuti, Macy Gray, Nile Rodgers, Roy Hargrove, Tony Allen, Baaba Maal, Cheikh Lo, Me'Shell Ndege'Ocello, etc. - so these were no perfunctory cover versions. As the AllMusic reviewer wrote at the time: By their nature, tributes can rarely be more than good records, but somehow Red Hot + Riot manages to transcend that. If you've got a vinyl, or even CD, copy of that album lying around, you're lucky. Besides the excellent music, they're now collectors items.
The organisation is now following that up with (RED) Hot + Fela, which will be out later this year or early next year. The first single, a cover of Kuti's 'Lady', featuring Angelique Kidjo, tUnE-yArDs, Akua Naru and Ahmir Questlove Thompson (from The Roots), is out already, and available to download via iTunes.
"I wanted to reclaim 'Lady' for women in the world today, particularly African women, who will have an important role in ending the AIDS epidemic there. I was so happy to have the powerful Angelique Kidjo pour her soul into it, and then rapper Akua Naru wrote a raw, intense verse that perfectly extended and completed our version of the song." - Merrill Garbus, a.k.a. tUnE-yArDs
The release kicked off a ten-day fundraising and AIDS awareness campaign called (RED) RUSH to ZERO. You can also join RED on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
Behind-the-scenes of the 'making of' via OkayAfrica
The 2002 album was followed by some Red Hot and Riot Live concerts, so fingers crossed for similar concerts to support the new album when it comes out.