Saturday, 28 May 2011

A tribute to Gil Scott Heron - April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011

The legendary Gil Scott Heron, often regarded as "the godfather of hip hop" has died aged 62.

I first discovered Heron on an excellent black power compilation called 'Stand Up and Be Counted', which was collection of civil rights themed funk and soul from the 60's. T is where I heard his awesome 'The Revolution will Not Be Televised' for the first time, a track that led me to re-evaluate hip hop. Hip hop was a genre that I hated (except for the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy), but when I heard this track I realised that the roots of hip hop were established from militant beat poets, a million miles from the commercial nonsense people consider to be hip hop nowadays. Heron never liked being tagged 'the Godfather of hip hop', but for sure hip hop was a sound developed and heavily influenced by his particular genre.

His influence is truly hard to overstate.

His recent album 'I'm New Here' was released last year and won a lot of critical acclaim, bringing his career to a quality end. His death comes as a shock and seems so sudden. For sure a lot of people will be in mourning today.....

The cause of his death is still unclear.

The influential musician and poet - often given a 'Godfather Of Hip-Hop' nickname he rejected - passed away in New York's St Luke's Hospital yesterday (May 27), reportsBBC News.

It is believed that Scott-Heron fell ill after returning from a trip to Europe.

After starting his recording career in 1970, his output spanned soul, jazz, blues and the spoken word.

His work had a strong political element. 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', perhaps his best-known work, critiqued the mass media of the 1970s.

He was one of the first artists to use his music to speak out about the apartheid in South Africa, some time before the issue became the focus of a popular global campaign.

Scott-Heron went on to influence generations of musicians, both inside and outside hip-hop.

Kanye West heavily sampled Scott-Heron's spoken word pieces on last year's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' album.

Scott-Heron's final album was last year's 'I'm New Here', his first studio LP in 16 years.

The album was reworked with The xx's Jamie xx into a remix album, 'We're New Here', which was released last February.

Public Enemy's Chuck D has been among those paying tribute to Scott-Heron, taking to his Twitter account to say: "RIP GSH..and we do what we do and how we do because of you. And to those that don't know tip your hat with a hand over your heart & recognize."

He added that he had planned to collaborate with Scott-Heron on his next album, tweeting: "Quite stunned at the fact I just wrote and recorded guest vocals on one of his next albums.This makes one realize that time is precious, damn."

New York rapper Talib Kweli also had his say, tweeting "Wow. The rest of my night I'm gonna listen to Gil Scott-Heron. We love you brother. We will miss you. RIP."

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