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Motown And UMe Celebrate 50th Anniversary Of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’

Artists contributing to the series include Jac Ross, Dreph, and Young Guru.

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Marvin Gaye 50th
Courtesy of Motown Records

To honor the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s momentous and historic album, What’s Going On, Motown/UMe are introducing a charge of releases that both pay tribute to and re-imagine the essence of Gaye’s historical impact.

Representing the younger generations, soul-stirring R&B virtuoso Jac Ross has released a cover of “What’s Going On.” Ross has quickly made himself known in the R&B scene with his single “It’s OK To Be Black” and has built a buzz around his electric live show and his ability to connect to listeners through his songs. 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.

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One of the most influential and successful people in hip-hop for the past several decades, Young Guru, has announced his “What’s Going On” remix to be released in June. A Grammy-winning engineer for Everything Is Love by The Carters, Young Guru has worked closely with genre-defining artists. With What’s Going On as a driving influence for himself 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 worlds of where I’m from,” says Guru. “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.”

Elsewhere, Visual artist and educator Dreph unveiled a mural in Brixton that pays tribute to Gaye and the 1981 Brixton Uprising.

“The thing about painting in the street is you have to consider how it will be viewed,” says Dreph. “There’s an element of ‘What’s Going On’ where Marvin Gaye mentions police brutality. This particular image has police officers in it and it’s opposite a police station, so there’s already a context.

“Brixton has always been a place that’s full of culture and so real. People will come up to you and tell you what they think. And I love that, there’s an energy.”

Marvin Gaye What's Going On Mural

Photo: Courtesy of UMG, artist Dreph

Additionally, CNN recently aired their special What’s Going On: Marvin Gaye’s Anthem for the Ages (first aired May 9, 2021), hosted by Don Lemon. The program featured interviews from artists inspired by Gaye’s masterwork including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Maxwell, Sheila E., Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, and Capitol Records artist Devon Gilfillian, whose most recent release is a cover of the full What’s Going On album.

Buy or stream Marvin Gaye’s digital deluxe edition of What’s Going On.

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