American poet, author, musician and cultural icon Gil Scott Heron left this world last Friday, May 27. He was 62 years old. Though he was never a mainstream artist, he was an influential voice. Scott-Heron is widely considered one of the godfathers of rap with his piercing social and political prose. He is often credited with being one of the founders of hip-hop, and is best known for the spoken-word piece “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
He left a volume of work for the world to treasure. He recorded more than a dozen albums and was hailed as an important influence by hip-hop performers such as Kanye West, who heavily sampled Scott-Heron’s spoken word pieces on last year’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” album. After serving a prison sentence for drug possession, Scott-Heron released an acclaimed album last year 2010, “I’m New Here,” his first studio LP in 16 years. His last album, which came out this year, was a collaboration with artist Jamie xx, “We’re Still Here,” a reworking of his 2010 album.
Public Enemy frontman Chuck D has been among those paying tribute to Scott-Heron, taking to his Twitter account: “RIP GSH..and we do what we do and how we do because of you. And to those that don’t know tip your hat with a hand over your heart & recognize.” Eminem also expressed his condolences. “RIP Gil Scott-Heron. He influenced all of hip-hop.”
By Noémie Jamar