We lost a legend. Songwriter, novelist, activist and poet Gil Scott-Heron passed away yesterday afternoon in New York Hospital. He was 62 years old. A master of spoken word, Scott-Heron spoke about issues of racism, poverty and social injustice, laying the groundwork for the socially conscious lyrics associated with true Hip Hop. Many have called him the godfather of the genre.
Born in Chicago in 1949, Scott-Heron was raised by his mother and grandmother in Jackson, Tennessee. He had an affinity for music and listened to the radio attempting to pick out harmonies so he could try and play them by ear. Later in college, Scott-Heron discovered the work of Langston Hughes. He wrote his most famous poem “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” in 1968 at the age of 19. By 23, he had published a book of poems, two novels and had recorded three albums.
Although he frequently delivered messages against drug use and the affects they have the community, Scott-Heron was arrested in 2001 for possession of cocaine and took a lengthy hiatus from the limelight until 2009 when he released his solo recording, “I’m New Here” at age 60.
To honor the man who did so much for our social awareness and music as we know it today, let’s look at some of Scott-Heron’s most memorable works.