It’s Your World

05.27.2011

MUSIC

Gil Scott-Heron died last night [May 27, 2011]. Official news outlets report the “cause is unclear” but those of us who grew up listening to his music and poetry, know our prophetic legend was finally run down by the demons that were his addiction. Gil Scott began his recording career with the independent label Flying Dutchman Records (a nod to the Leroi Jones play) in 1970, at the height of the Black Power movement. He was to America’s ghetto what Bob Dylan was to the rest of the country, a militant voice of protest. His influential 1974 album Winter in America produced soul-aching ballads and timeless classics and caught the attention of music impresario Clive Davis who made Scott-Heron, in 1975, the first artist he signed to Arista Records.

Hip-hop did much to strip shame from poverty, but with songs like “Whitey on the Moon”, where he juxtaposed high health care bills, rat-infested apartments and late rent payments with space race budgets, Gil Scott’s songs restored humanity to America’s inner-city poor. His “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” survived generations. He is widely regarded a forefather of hip-hop, with artists (most recently, Kanye West) paying tribute to him for decades. His later live shows were often emotionally skinless; in later years he barely sobered up for concerts, yet the clarity of his sharp commentary cut through his own fog. Known to extend his haunting blues song “Angel Dust” past thirty minutes, he’d grip the neck of a large bottle of cognac onstage and break from his lyrics to make concise, biting political criticism. He was the unshaven everyman who looked like he could barely get past his own venue’s security, but when he sang, his voice remained a strong bellwether. Gil Scott-Heron’s thirteenth and final album I’m New Here was released in February of this year. He didn’t take care of himself, he never conquered his need to self medicate, but he never stopped caring for us.

  • Anonymous

    He actually cared and never comprimised himself. A sad day for us all who were touched by him. R.I.P – Gil

    He will remain in our hearts and thoughts. Which he knows to complete the bound!

  • http://www.facebook.com/elbieinc Elbie Love

    beautifully written dreamy fresh. thank u for sharing.

  • angel rozetta

    I have more ticket stubs from shows that GSH didn’t show up for than those he did, yet he was as steady and reliable as time itself when I needed someone to make me *feel* something. Though we had different reasons for singing so, he was the first person who harmonized with me to the sentiment that “home is where the hatred is.” When he says “you keep saying, ‘kick it, quit it, kick it, quit it’ – god, but did you ever try?” – it made me “hear” the pleas of the addict in my life in a totally different way. In just a few words, he allowed me to feel the desperation of addiction from the perspective of the addicted, which helped me greatly in my relationship with my mother. I’ll be collecting his obituaries, starting with this one, and I thank you for penning it, Ms. hampton.

  • http://twitter.com/Devilinablue Ellen Pettie

    Thank you for being honest Dream….

    Have a seat and rest your nerves Gil Scott-Heron…you’ve earned it…and though I know sometimes it doesnt seem like it…we got it from here.

  • http://twitter.com/iYashMusic Steven Odige

    tone and strength in his voice is incomparable … i enjoyed this very much and im glad i had the opportunity to read this (idk if im saying this right… it might be something else) article

  • Anonymous

    Dream you always know how to put it down. When I thought of Gil, many images of performers past and present came to mind. He was a genre all his own and Message to the Messengers will forever be my anthem despite dropping in his career later years.

  • Anonymous

    Dream you always know how to put it down. When I thought of Gil, many images of performers past and present came to mind. He was a genre all his own and Message to the Messengers will forever be my anthem despite dropping in his career later years.

  • http://twitter.com/Phenomenality She is I & I am Vee

    Gil was an amazing spirit and he will live on through his incomparable work. Love you, Dreamy Fresh… Thank you for this poignant and beautiful note.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697183961 Eleuterio Villegas

    I’m just glad he took the time to bless folks with one more hit of knowledge and grace before he left. Just an amazing body of work and hopefully I’m New Here opened up a world for some people who maybe forgot or never knew who he was. There’s never gonna be anybody like him again. Hopefully that fact doesn’t stop people from trying to be.

  • http://twitter.com/SageShabazz Sage Sage

    I’m 24 and have been listening to Gil Scott-Heron since I was 13.He made meaningful music and that is totally what’s missing today.I’m not impressed with commericial radio nor am I impressed with commercial artists with no talent.

    “It’s Winter in America”…..RIP Mr Gil Scott -Heron,a man who used his art to impart knowledge on those that seek knowledge…..

  • Kolette Allen

    Thank u J,

  • http://twitter.com/BrokePimpStyles Madame of Content

    ……..

  • Denise Waters

    He may have had demons, but we still got his message, his love, and his true spirit

  • Anonymous

    1+1=2… Beyonce was forseeing the end of life and times of Gil. Thank You for everything, Gil. RIP

  • brooklyninkproject

    Will always remember Gil for his candor and style. He was (is) like no other! Thank you Gil for the message in your music.

  • http://profiles.google.com/yeahthisisvr V R

    R.I.P

  • http://profiles.google.com/yeahthisisvr V R

    R.I.P

  • http://twitter.com/t_NYC thomas Jr

    Poets live forever. SHINE ON, Gil

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_USW6EKBK6C5B5GEHW3UGOOH25M Justin Chaitoo

    you are a good comprimised and love to what he love and all fan and family he will be MISS to r i p GIL to love what he like give to he art

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_USW6EKBK6C5B5GEHW3UGOOH25M Justin Chaitoo

    how is a task that is not in life these person would think they know everything day like this of the heart of the time

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