Gil Scott-Heron died Friday afternoon in New York, his book publisher reported. He was 62. The influential poet and musician is often credited with being one of the progenitors of hip-hop, and is best known for the spoken-word piece “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” – NPR
It is hard to overestimate Gil Scott-Heron’s influence, but I think a lot of the headlines played up the hip-hop angle too much. There is no denying that his “talking over music” style bore some similarities to hip-hop (The Last Poets are also given the “proto-rap” label), that always struck me as a little tenuous. And as much as I love hip-hop, I think it is a disservice to Gil Scott-Heron to limit his memory to just being the “Godfather of Rap.”
To us, Gil Scott-Heron was a lot more than that, he was one of our favorite artists of any genre, and his relative obscurity (compared to, say, James Brown or Michael Jackson) makes his loss hurt a little worse; he was ours. He could make you laugh out loud, he could make you dance, he could make you cry, often all at once, and it was always a deeply personal experience.
I’m not going to go too deep into the music because Cosmo did a great job with that already (and told some personal stories) – go to his blog for that. Update: Chances With Wolves & Cosmo recorded a tribute show, two hours of music here. Chairman Mao put up a pretty great tribute mix, which you can get at the Ego Trip blog. Finally, here is a little secret weapon Gil Scott-Heron remix from our friends in Sweden:
This month, The Rub welcomes the Ebony and Ivory of house music, Ed Banger Records’ Carte Blanche. The Afro-pean duo (Frenchman DJ Mehdi and Englishman Riton) discuss their mashed retro house project, the Roland TR-909, textbook chords and DJing “foot-naked.”
A few great stories about rap-related shit from Creative Loafing Atlanta, NPR and New York Times:
So our good friend DJ Anonymous is in town from Helsinki this week… Well actually he’s been trying to get to New York for the past 2 weeks but that damn volcano was fucking up the program. But he finally made it and so we’re having a last minute throwdown with the dude. He’s a great homie, and the first supporter of The Rub in Finland (which is one of my favorite places to play in the world. So this Wednesday we’re gonna go all in, all vinyl, at the Down South Lounge which is the basement of Southpaw. Nothing of great music, great people, cheap drinks and no cover charge so hope to see you out.
Listen to our friend Matthew Africa’s Gangstarr mix, and read Cosmo’s thoughts about Guru and Gangstarr.
Matthew Africa – Got To Be The Sureshot
Rest In Power Keith “Guru” Elam (July 17th, 1966 – April 20th, 2010)
My morning regiment is pretty consistent day in and day out. I wake up, hit the bathroom, go into the kitchen and get the coffee started, and not so long afterwards that I’ll pick up my phone to see what messages I missed during the evening. Needless to say the news of Guru’s leaving this planet was one of the first pieces of news that I got this morning. Shocked, and saddened, I said to my wife “Jesus, Guru has died.” A few minutes later as we sat on the couch, she turned to me and, with tears in her eyes, said to me “This is so sad. It was ‘Step In The Arena’ that made me realize I was a real hip-hop ‘head’…”
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Reposted from CosmoBaker.com. Be sure to go to Cosmo’s website every week for a new edition of Breakbeat Thursdays
Last week was Mardi Gras and so I figured we’ll make this week’s post a tribute to that. I’ve never been to New Orleans but I have always wanted to. We almost went there a few years ago with the A-Trak “Sunglasses Is A Must Tour” but the date that was scheduled in 2005, for 2006 happened before Katrina (we went to Baton Rouge instead.) But anyway, I’m fascinated by the city, its rich history and culture, its spirit. Choctaw Indians, jazz, Second Line, voodoo, Wild Tchoupitoulas, honestly in concept the city has pretty much everything for me haha. And I don’t really ever think about my death, but have occasionally thought that I would like my funeral to at least have the spirit, if not the customs, of a Second Line march. But let’s get to the music…
So obviously like any kid my age, there was a fair amount of Paul Simon / Simon & Garfunkel that I was raised on. In fact it’s quite possible that “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” might have been one of the first songs that I memorized the lyrics to. And it’s funny to me because when you’re a teen and you want to rebel against anything that you parents like, it’s very easy to say that Paul Simon isn’t hip. “Turn this wack juice off mom, I want to listen to Public Enemy.” But now that I’m older I have no qualms about not only accepting, but publicly proclaiming that Paul is that dude. Honestly, who doesn’t have love for “Graceland?” And in my humble opinion, “Rhythm Of The Saints” is one of the finest albums of the 80s. One may say that without Paul Simon there would be no Diplo (oh snap, did I just say that haha…)
CTI Records was founded in the late 60s by legendary record producer Creed Taylor as a subsidiary of Herb Albert’s A&M Records. It was a very distinctive record label that during the early and mid 70s was very much at the forefront of releasing a sound that bridged the gap from jazz to funk to easy-listening, all with a certain swing to it. Taylor, along with his artists and other in-house producers and arrangers, took the de rigueur sound of tepid 60s soul / jazz and infused a particular sheen to it that gave it all a very modern sound. That sound was embraced en-masse by a whole generation of hip-hop producers who mined the readily available CTI catalog in dollar bins to help sculpt the landscape of rap music in the late 80s and early 90s, a debt that often goes overlooked. And “diggers” often poke fun at CTI records because, for many of us, when we first started digging in the crates it was all the CTI records that many of us got in the initial stages of amassing our collection. So while many look at it the records as almost being somewhat pedestrian, I challenge that the back catalog is stronger than many of the rarer pieces out there. And trust me, I’ve GOT RECORDS, dudes…
Okay, tying this whole thing together, Bob James recorded a cover version of Paul Simon’s “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” for his 1975 release “Two.” It is a funk-infused monster a times, an easy-listening masterpiece at others… (did I really just say “easy-listening masterpiece?”) But the thing that James’ version is best known for is its incredibly infamous breakbeat at the top.
And just to make it so that I’m beating you all over the head with the obvious, here’s a Mardi Gras tribute treat courtesy of my homie Supreme La Rock. For the few of you who don’t know him, Preme holds in own in Seattle and one of the illest DJs I know, period. Not only is his DJ game sick, he’s one of the top diggers in the world and has been for as long as I can remember. His is game to respect, no question. You should also check out his podcast here. So Preme sent me this record by The Spotnicks, a pop group from Sweden who recorded a version of Mardi Gras – complete with their own breakbeat. It’s pretty ill, and completely different from the Bob James version. Check it out, and happy Mardi Gras yall…
Canada, you would be a fool not to go see our boy Sammy Bananas on tour this month! And apparently he loves to smoke cigs, so you should probably lock him in the garage and force him to smoke a whole pack.
And be sure to grab his super fun Telephoned EP (with singer Maggie Horn) right here!