Gil Scott-Heron died Friday afternoon in New York. 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.”
… He has been cited as a key influence by many in the hip-hop community — such as rapper-producer Kanye West, who closed his platinum-selling 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with a track built around a sample of Scott-Heron’s voice.
Scott-Heron struggled with substance abuse for much of his career, and spent the 2000s in and out of jail on drug possession charges. He began performing again after his release in 2007, and in 2010 released a new album, I’m New Here, to widespread critical acclaim.
Check out the piece linked in the video above — a fierce, poetic response to President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon — for an example of why Scott-Heron’s passing is deserving of a respectful hat tip from this space.
An unafraid, untamed truth-telling voice has gone from our midst. Let’s remember the best of what he gave to us, and use his memory as inspiration to carry on in that spirit.