! Red Hot + Coal is a challenging . jazz/hip hop collaboration which i takes the safe sex message into
I black American ghettos. Eddie
; Up, Stand Up, is its normality. Tummings is black, as are the other ;
comedy show Get Up, Stand Up, but 3 the description is not strictly
Even when it was black -— the Jungle Brothers. Nench Cherry — Red Hot + Blue. the collection of Cole Porter covers released in 1990. was aimed at a mainly white audience. This was the ﬁrst in the series of Red Hot AIDS projects designed to raise money and consciousness. and the New York-based charity was anxious not to spook major record industry players whose cooperation was crucial.
Red Hat + Blue rounded up a credible assortment of major artists. including kd lang. David Byrne and Sincad ()‘Connor. and matched them with hipster ﬁlmmakers like Jim Jarmusch and Wim Wenders to make the accompanying videos. These were intercut with AIDS awareness messages by the likes of actor John Malkovich. Looking back. its apparent how cleverly targeted it was.
‘I don‘t think people would listen to what someone like Phil Collins is saying because he‘s sold too many other things.‘ says Red Hot co-founder John Carlin. ‘What we‘re trying to do with all these projects is not to treat music as celebrity. it's really just about the music.‘
If Red Hot + Blue was slick and laid-back. with a basically fun message about safe sex. the latest project. Red Hot + Coal. is a howl of rage. it raises
the alarm about a disease with a infection rate ﬁve times higher amongst blacks than whites in America. Based on a collaboration between respected old school jazz musicians like Pharoah Sanders and Ron Caner. and politically sussed rappers like Guru and the Digable Planets. C001 is aimed at the heart of the ghetto.
‘AIDS affects black people more than anyone else in America.‘ says Carlin. ‘But the people who most need to know are the hardest to talk to — the kids. The only way to talk to them is through music because that‘s where they take their tribal signs from.‘
Whereas previous videos accompanying Red Hot music releases. which have encompassed country. dance and grunge. acted mainly as MTV-friendly images. the Red Hot + C001 ﬁlm has a greater speech content. The talk is from the rappers themselves and young black people who are HIV positive. ()ne of the most memorable moments is the Pharcyde's chillingly angry indictment of a government which he accuses of actively spreading AIDS in poor black areas.
A balancing view — what Carlin calls the ‘editorial voice' of the ﬁlm — comes from leading black intellectual Cornel West, professor of African- Arnerican studies at Harvard. His commentary on AIDS and young black Americans is a compelling. polernieal rhetoric which ﬁts the experimental jazz/hip hop crossover style ofthe music.
‘AIDS ailects black people more than anyone else in America. But the people who most need to know are the hardest to talk to.’
‘To say there's a conspiracy is a cry that we've got to do something and i can resonate with that.’ says West. ‘But I don’t believe there‘s a conspiracy per se. just a host ofelites giving it low priority.’
The opinions heard in Cm)! are rarely heard on American television. according to Carlin. and the public service station that helped develop the ﬁlm has declined to show the ﬁnished piece. ‘Although the record is smoother. the television show is more political.’ says Carlin. ‘l wanted it to be almost like a militant 60s ﬁlm. like Melvin van Peebles‘ stuff. People are speaking their minds and you never see black people talk like that on American TV.’
Red Hat + C001 is on Friday 2 December at [2.15am on Channel 4. Money raised from record sales is distributed in Britain by tlte Red Hot Aids Charitable Trust (ill 07/ 924 0385.
_ 3 Black out
‘It’s going to be hard hitting and hilariously iunny,’ says stand-up Chris Tummings with mock bravado. lle’s . talking about the new Channel 4 i '
I accurate. Judging by a collection at ’ rough edits, the sketch-based series ‘ will be uneven, with plenty iunny moments and the occasional flash oi I inspiration. But hard-hitting? llo. l The most subversive thing about Get i
co-stars, actor Malcolm Frederick and stand-up Angie Le Mar, whose show Funny Black Women On The Edge ran during the Edinburgh Festival this year.
was to take black humour out of ‘the
84 The List 2—15 December 1994
? table-thumping political ghetto’.
, Cummings mentions Hale and Pace when pressed for a comparison and
Producer Keith lakham says the plan '; although the show is funnier and
iunkier than the staid stars of lTV’s
lowest common denominator entertainment, he has a point. Get Up should have mass appeal, even though its transmission on Channel 4 consigns it to another kind of ghetto.
Tummings is best known in television land as Gloria’s boyfriend in llesmond’s, the barbershop sitcom which has given regular television work to many black actors. le Mar has also appeared in The lleal McCoy, the ‘other’ black comedy show on television, which Get Up will inevitably be compared to. ‘The only similarity is that we’re black and we do sketches,’ says Tummings. ‘There should be room for dilterent shows - not just one black show.’
I have to tell you, the similarities do go a bit further. Most sketch-based comedy uses instantly recognisable characters, and in McCoy and Get Up, these characters tend to be exaggerated black icons. Get Up’s ragga carol singers and McCoy’s twitchy rapper MC Can’t-stand-stillski could be iron the same pen.
Judge for yourseli whether it’s funny - it’s the only measure that matters to the Get Up posse. (Eddie Gibb)
Get Up, Stand Up is on Thursday 15 December at 11pm on Channel 4.