Saturday, May 28, 2011

GIL SCOTT-HERON 1949-2011

Gil Scott-Heron, the influential spoken word artist, poet, musician, and author - considered to be "the Godfather of Hip Hop" - died friday in New York at age 62.

from CNN:

It was not immediately known what killed Scott-Heron, who was best known for the 1970 song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," a politically and socially charged song that examined the African American condition in America at the time. The song was banned by some radio stations.

Born in 1949, Scott-Heron first gained fame for his poetry and spoken word performances in the late 1960s. By the mid-1970s, he had published two books of poetry and recorded four albums, including "Small Talk At 125th & Lenox."

His early albums, "Pieces of a Man" and "Winter in America," have been credited with influencing other musical genres, such as hip hop. But it was the song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" that put Scott-Heron on the musical map.

His music has been sampled by everyone from Kanye West, who sampled "Comment #1" for his 2010 song "Who Will Save America," to Common's sample of "No Knock" on his 2008 hit "Universal Mind Control."

In a 2008 interview with New York magazine, Scott-Heron revealed he had contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, after years of batting drug and alcohol addictions. In 2001 and 2007, he was jailed on drug charges.


one of his more wonderfully barbed pieces was inspired by the blanket pardon received by disgraced, resigned warmonger president Richard Nixon for any crimes he might have committed in the White House.

Nixon was granted this unusual pardon by then president Ford ("Oatmeal Man").

"We Beg Your Pardon, America" actually got some airplay on white rock station WNEW-FM at the time.

as with any great poet, his words from 1975 have a spooky relevance today. his scathing but eloquent (and highly entertaining) narrative about the disparate notions of crime and punishment resonates too much for a rap from 36 years ago.

my favorite line has to do with a leg condition Nixon had, which was cited as a factor in the pardon. the condition is called phlebitis...


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