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: