They’ve ripped an anthem right out of ‘71, pushed a bandwagon of musicians into a couple of studios, and duplicated that one single into nine renditions (that’s nine of the same song).
"What’s Going On" is a benefit album, developed in the wake of the Twin Tower bombings. The proceeds of this will go to the United Way’s September 11 Fund and the Artists Against AIDS Worldwide, with a special focus on the AIDS situation in Africa.
As far as the music goes, this new avatar of Marvin Gaye's soul classic haship-hop with a hint of jazz. And it sounds good. You have people like Jermaine Dupri, Fred Durst, Moby, Bono, and The Neptunes (among others) who’ve worked individually on developing new sounds to the same lyrics.
They’re all squarely "get-up-and-move" tracks, with truckloads of rap built on an essentially R&B base. With the lone exceptions of the London version, which features Bono and Chris Martin, and Moby’s version, which has a more operatic strain, I really cannot tell one from the other. The jacket, though, lists an impressive musical troupe, from Jennifer Lopez and Nelly Furtado (can’t miss her out) to Destiny’s Child and Britney Spears.
If only they'd tried getting more creative with, y’know, a wider range of songs, or even more original music, this would have been well worth its cause. But what the hell - there’s nothing quite like indulging the lot, especially when they’ve come around to doing something worthwhile for a change, eh?This article was first published on 20 Nov 2001.