“Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”, often shortened to “Inner City Blues”, is a song by Marvin Gaye, released as the third and final single from and the climactic song of his 1971 landmark album, What’s Going On. Written by Gaye and James Nyx, the song depicted the ghettos of inner-city America as it discussed how the bleak economic situation would lead to someone wanting to holler and throw ones hands up. The song was recorded in a mellow funk style with Gaye playing piano. Several of the Funk Brothers also contributed, including Eddie “Bongo” Brown, and bassist Bob Babbitt.
The song helped Gaye make history by being one of the few artists to have three or more Top 10 songs off Billboard’s Pop Singles chart peaking at #9 and one of the first to have three consecutive #1 hits on Billboard’s R&B Singles chart where it stayed for two weeks. Although not certified by the RIAA at that time, all three releases from the What’s Going On album gained Gold status by selling over 1,000,000 copies in the United States.
In its unedited version as it appears on the album, the final minute of the song (and of the LP) is a reprise to the theme of “What’s Going On”, the album’s first song, then segues into a dark ending. This final minute was cut off of the single version, as well as other sections of the song so the single edit runs under three minutes–this edit appears on subsequent reissues of the LP.