50 years ago today, the great Marvin Gaye released one of the most timeless R & B albums ever recorded. Fifty years later, the influence and meaning behind one of R&B’s first seamless concept albums, What’s Going On, continues to ring true.
To honor this momentous record and celebrate Gaye’s life and legacy, Motown/UMe are announcing a slew of releases that both conserve and reimagine the essence of “What’s Going On“.
Emerging RNB artist Jac Ross released his cover for iconic record “What’s Going On”.
Highly influenced by Gaye and striving to carry on the messages of struggle, perseverance, and cultural change, Ross’ cover honors and preserves the track’s original atmosphere while imbuing the weight and emotion of today’s social climate.
Honestly, I would rank What’s Going On as one of the best pieces I’ve ever heard. It holds substance and has charisma all at the same time. To me the album is a socially conscious project. It’s what Marvin sees, being converted to what he says in real time. Even when we fast forward into the present, this piece of work holds the same impact. The project inspired my career in many ways, one of which is simply making a real effort to speak out when the time is right. Another thing I’ve learned from watching Marvin’s career is that you can be versatile. You just simply must pay attention to what the world is telling you in that moment.Jac Ross on “What’s Going On” Impact
Also announced was a “What’s Going On” remix anchored by Hip-Hop legend Young Guru to be released next month.
What’s Going On was a driving influence for Guru as well as the many artists he has worked with, Guru is developing a rendition of the track infused with the genres, grooves, and tones that Gaye’s work would go on to inspire.
My goal was to meld the world of where I’m from. This record affected my father when it came out, but I also want it to affect my son right now with this remix. And for me, that’s the biggest thing, showing reverence, but also showing how it’s still effective today and how it still goes with the times today.Young Guru on “What’s Going On” remix
United Kingdom artist Dreph, is revealing a 16-foot mural in a cinematic ’70s black movie style that pays homage to the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Brixton Uprising. The art represents the musical message of What’s Going On, which still held its significance amongst police brutality and racial inequality in 1981 and continues to encourage the social justice movement of today.
Motown/UMe have released a new lyric video for “What’s Going On” featuring the captivating art of animator and director Tim Fox.
There are also eight brand-new pseudo-videos released for the remaining tracks on the original record, each animated by a different artist to match the message and atmosphere of the song. Which you can view HERE.
CNN is also airing What’s Going On: Marvin Gaye’s Anthem for the Ages hosted by Don Lemon. Featuring interviews from artists inspired by Gaye’s body of work including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Maxwell, Sheila E., Spike Lee, Lee Daniels and Capitol Records artist Devon Gilfillian, whose You can watch the special on CNN VOD HERE.
Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On continues to be hailed as one of the greatest albums of all time. It was the first of Gaye’s albums to break the top ten of Billboard’s Top LPs. The album spawned three No. 1 singles. At the time it became Motown’s best-selling album. Decades later it earned the No. 1 spot on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2020 list of “The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.”
Marvin Gaye continues to hold his place as one of the greatest singers, composers and producers in this half a century, and What’s Going On has proven that its timeless message and sound will continue to change the face of music for years to come.