Red Hot + Riot

Red Hot + Riot

4.3 6
It took long enough, but the long-rumored Red Hot Fela Kuti tribute shatters even the highest expectations. For years, neo-soulsters and jazzbos alike have been talking up the music of Nigeria's Afrobeat architect. But Red Hot + Riot! at last makes a visceral connection. Producers Andrés


It took long enough, but the long-rumored Red Hot Fela Kuti tribute shatters even the highest expectations. For years, neo-soulsters and jazzbos alike have been talking up the music of Nigeria's Afrobeat architect. But Red Hot + Riot! at last makes a visceral connection. Producers Andrés Levin, John Carlin, and Paul Heck turn an illustrious roster of rappers, bluesmen, African troubadours, jazz masters, and more loose on covers and music inspired by Fela's loping funk, and the results are extraordinary. Where previous Red Hot compilations aimed for high-minded science experiments and daring juxtapositions, this tribute feels like a family reunion. Not even the famous Red Hot + Cool sessions, which fairly birthed acid jazz, offered such a simpatico meeting of jazz and hip-hop. Inside the rich tapestry of Fela's Afrobeat, there's plenty of room for turntables, rappers, jazz solos, African drumming, chants, praises, blessings, and -- this is Fela, after all -- curses. Righteous anger pours from inner-city voices: Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, and Meshell Ndegeocello, who memorably asks, "Did your mind write a check that your soul can't cash?" Others pay tribute to the rebel leader's African roots, including his son Femi, Baaba Maal, and Senegal's Chieck Lo, who changes Fela's critical "African Lady" into a celebration, with help from Manu Dibango's saxophone. Where Fela's monumental jams -- and equally lengthy harangues -- demand a certain patience, Red Hot + Riot! keeps the action coming, thanks to deft sampling, electronic interludes, varied textures, and effects. To hear the shimmering rhythmic chops of Nile Rodgers's guitar frame the percolating funk of "Water Get No Enemy," then cede to the feathery vocals of Macy Gray in her best Lady Marmalade creole, and wrap up with Roy Hargrove's horn and vocal adlibs from D'Angelo is to witness the smartest and most soulful collaboration in many a moon. What shouldn't get lost in the music is the Red Hot raison d'être: Proceeds from the album support awareness and prevention of AIDS, the disease that conquered the Black President in 1997. More fitting memorials are rare indeed.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Chris Nickson
Good records work; great records have an organic unity. By their nature, tributes can rarely be more than good records, but somehow Red Hot + Riot manages to transcend that. In part it's because it moves into uncharted territory, mixing African and African-American artists in ways that haven't happened before, all in tribute to the late Fela Kuti (an apt subject for an AIDS fundraiser, since he died of the disease). And so there's rapping over Afro-beat grooves (a refreshing change from lame hip-hop beats), jazz, and R&B, African musicians playing Afro-beat, and a whole lot more, plus some of the most conscious words you'll hear in many a year. Mix Master Mike mashes up some Fela cuts for the interludes, which makes for perfect breaks, especially the opener, which leads into the powerful "Kalakuta Show" from two members of Blackalicious. It's a record of highlights, such as the groove jam on "Water Get No Enemy," with D'Angelo, Macy Gray, Nile Rodgers, and jazzer Roy Hargrove (who blows up a storm everywhere he appears on the disc) along with Femi Kuti, or the scathing "Shuffering and Shmiling," featuring Femi's band, Positive Force, behind Dead Prez and Talib Kweli, with Brazilian star Jorge Ben adding rhythm guitar and some sublime scat singing. Djali Madi Tounkara and Common team up for a lovely "Years of Tears and Sorrow," before Senegalese star Cheikh Lô unleashes a fearsome "Shankara/Lady," a song he played as a teen, adding talking drum and a thick sound. On "Gentleman," Me'Shell NdegéOcello and saxophonist Ron Blake work with Yerba Buena to create a piece that sounds like the song Talking Heads really wanted to do with "Life During Wartime." The mood slows toward the end of the album after "No Agreement," where Fela alumnus Tony Allen powers through the song, leading Baaba Maal, Ray Lema, and African rappers Positive Black Soul. It leads into two non-Fela songs, Kelis on "So Be It," which is pure Fela in feel if not execution, and a dreamy, dubby mix of Sade's "By Your Side" -- a fair inclusion since, like Fela, she's from Nigeria. It all ends with "Trouble Sleep," really Fela's only non-Afro-beat song, with Baaba Maal and Taj Mahal singing over Kaouding Cissoko's lulling kora, to close a record that's the perfect tribute to Fela's revolutionary spirit.
Entertainment Weekly - Rob Brunner
With grooves this delicately monstrous and a line-up this well-chosen and eclectic, it's the best sort of sensory overload. (A-)

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mix Master Mike   Track Performer
Blackalicious   Track Performer
Dead Prez   Track Performer
Jorge Ben   Track Performer
Bilal   Track Performer
Talib Kweli   Track Performer
D'Angelo   Track Performer
Femi Kuti   Track Performer
Macy Gray   Track Performer
Roy Hargrove   Track Performer
Nile Rodgers   Track Performer
Meshell Ndegeocello   Track Performer
Common   Track Performer
Djelimady Tounkara   Track Performer
Cheikh Lô   Track Performer
Nubians   Track Performer
Wunmi   Track Performer
Money Mark   Track Performer
Baaba Maal   Track Performer
Tony Allen   Track Performer
Manu Dibango   Track Performer
RES   Track Performer
Kelis   Track Performer
Sade   Track Performer
Taj Mahal   Track Performer
Antibalas   Track Performer

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Red Hot + Riot 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had the chance to listen to some tracks on this cd and it just makes you want to get up and dance...afrobeat just does that to you! It's amazing how todays artists are worked in to the tracks of this cd, like D'angelo, Sade and Kelis...The Sade track of "By Your Side" and "Kalakuta Show" with Blackalicious' Gab and Lateef really makes you feel like you were jammin' along with the father of afrobeat Fela Kuti himself! I'm definitely getting when it's coming out!
Guest More than 1 year ago
While numerous monumental projects end up doing very little to their intended principal, Red Hot + Riot is an extraordinary album. It is an important project that would make this singer-composer, bandleader, trumpet, saxophone, keyboard player, and politician proud of those conscious hip-hop artists who chose to participate and expose Nigeria's AFROBEAT or highlife-jazz (fusing elements of Yoruba music with jazz). This tribute honors the man who not only sought to liberate Nigerians and Africans, but the entire black race. What shouldn't get lost in the music is the Red Hot raison d'être. More importantly, I shouldn¿t hesitate to express that the proceeds from the album support awareness and prevention of AIDS. ::::::::::::::: Fela Anikulapo-Kuti (meaning, one who has death in his pouch) died of an Aids-related illness at his home in Nigeria on August 2nd, 1997 at the age of 58. All of you will witness "55 million Africans die from AIDS over the next 20 years, and 70% of the 40 million people with HIV or AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa ¿ It¿s time to relentlessly address this crisis. ::::::::::::::: DEMAND THAT YOUR LOCAL RECORD STORES STOCK AND PROMOTE ¿Red Hot + Riot:The Music and Spirit of Fela Kuti¿ ::::::::::::::: "I just want to do my part and leave...Not for what they're going to remember you for, but for what you believe in as a man." ¿ Olufela Anikulapo-Kuti Abami Eda ::::::::::::::: Reviewed by André Action Jackson (M¿zée Fula-Ngenge) ¿ Chairman, JFPI Corporation on
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like good music, don't look any further than this album...since I bought it last month, everyone I've played it for has loved it! (and I know a lot of people :) ) Afro beat pioneer Fela Kuti's is revisited in this benefit album for the Red Hot Cause. Put out by MCA Records, proceeds from this album go towards ending Aids in Africa (how many Records out there are benefit albums huh?) I love all the tracks on this one..From when you first pop it in to hear a trance like trumpet riff over afro drums, you are hooked... My favorite songs are Suffering + Schmiling featuring Dead Prez, Jorge Ben Jor, Talib Kweli, Bilal, and Positive Forcec...Just in the line up right there you should feel me on this one... Also, the track Water Get No Enemy features is real hot! I saw a video online of everyone on the project bouncing in the studio to this one...its really addictive, somethings I just pop in the CD just to hear this one (its about 13 minutes long in all) Get this CD¿ won't be dissapointed¿
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first heard Red Hot & Riot I hadn¿t been exposed to Afro-beat music, however, I was a fan of Hip-Hop and R&B. When I saw that some of my favorite artists were featured on the Album, it immediately caught my interest. I loved the fact that this project takes Hip-Hop and R&B artists and places them in the world of afro-beat instead of allowing them to do their same genre of music. This type of twist really shows the creditability and talent of these artists. Red Hot & Riot has also made me a new fan of Afro-beat. I also loved that the album addresses political and social issues. This music definitely gives you something to talk about. It inspires thought and entertains. I also like that my money is contributing to the fight against AIDS in Africa. If I were to rate this CD by number, it would be a 10.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Similar to the Brand New Heavies Vol. 1-Heavy Rhyme Experience, this disk pioneers into new territory. Fela would love it. I'll be giving this disk as a gift to loved ones.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Red Hot and Riot was a HUGE disappointment. With the exception of a very few covers that stay true to the original (the best being "Water no get Enemy" by his son, Femi), the album consists largely of rap songs that have only one thing in common with the original Fela Kuti tunes: the title. Gone are the absolutely exquisite melodies and rhythms that came out of the pure genius of Fela. The rappers doing the covers are so egotistical that not only do they abandon Fela's heavenly musical stylings; they don't even bother to adhere to the original lyrics. Given all this, I just want to issue a warning to those listeners who think that by buying this album, they may be getting a good introduction to Fela's music: save your money and buy one of HIS albums. Even Fela's worst album would be a thousand times more worthwhile to listen to than this eminently forgetable drivel.