Released in 1991 and inspired by current events—the Gulf War raging in the Middle East, as coalition forces led by the USA drove Iraq’s occupying army out of Kuwait—“What’s This World Coming To” is a timeless lament. “War is a money-making machine,” said producer-arranger and V4Visions co-founder Alex Palmer, who co-wrote the song with vocalist Julian Ashaye. “To me the Gulf War was just an excuse to go in there and get some oil. Meanwhile the people that suffer are the ordinary citizens of the world.”
The track began with its beat, a sample loop of the lolloping groove and gently insistent keyboard lick from “Morning Will Come” by Britsoul legend Junior Giscombe, which Palmer discovered through its being sampled in “Love’s Taken Over” by American R&B singer Chanté Moore. Palmer then called on Julie Stapleton, another V4Visions vocal talent, to sing the plaintive and faltering title hook, which also became a looped refrain running through the track. Finally, Ashaye supplied the main part of the song, his wavering and imploring tones harking back to the early ’70s political soul of Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield and conscious reggae ballads like Junior Murvin’s “Police and Thieves,” as well as catching a bit of the flavor of gospel-tinged Chicago house such as Joe Smooth’s “Promised Land.” The end result hovers somewhere between quiet storm R&B and mellow house.
Core members of the V4Visions team and both based in South London, Ashaye and Palmer were frequent collaborators. Palmer, 30-years-old in 1991, had been involved in the UK’s rap and R&B scene, then fell in love with the deep house sound of Larry Heard’s project Fingers Inc . Ashaye, 29-years-old when he recorded “What’s This World Coming To,” had a similarly varied background, taking in ’70s smooth soul, lovers rock, and jazz-funk.
- Ashay What's This World Coming To
- Ashay What's This World Coming To (Instrumental)