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On June 1, 1970, Gaye recorded his new composition What's Going On in Hitsville U.S.A., inspired by an idea from Renaldo "Obie" Benson of the Four Tops after he witnessed an act of police brutality at an anti-war rally in Berkeley. Released in 1971, it reached number one on the R&B charts within a month, staying there for five weeks. It also reached the top spot on Cashbox's pop chart for a week and reached number two on the Hot 100 and the Record World chart, selling over two million copies. The album became Gaye's first million-selling album launching two more top ten singles, Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) and Inner City Blues. One of Motown's first autonomous works, its theme and segue flow brought the concept album format to rhythm and blues. An AllMusic writer later cited it as "...the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices."For the album, Gaye received two Grammy Award nominations and several NAACP Image Awards. The album also topped Rolling Stone's year-end list as its album of the year. Billboard magazine named Gaye Trendsetter of the Year following the album's success.

Marvin Gaye - What's Going On LP

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On June 1, 1970, Gaye recorded his new composition What's Going On in Hitsville U.S.A., inspired by an idea from Renaldo "Obie" Benson of the Four Tops after he witnessed an act of police brutality at an anti-war rally in Berkeley. Released in 1971, it reached number one on the R&B charts within a month, staying there for five weeks. It also reached the top spot on Cashbox's pop chart for a week and reached number two on the Hot 100 and the Record World chart, selling over two million copies. The album became Gaye's first million-selling album launching two more top ten singles, Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) and Inner City Blues. One of Motown's first autonomous works, its theme and segue flow brought the concept album format to rhythm and blues. An AllMusic writer later cited it as "...the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices."For the album, Gaye received two Grammy Award nominations and several NAACP Image Awards. The album also topped Rolling Stone's year-end list as its album of the year. Billboard magazine named Gaye Trendsetter of the Year following the album's success.

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