Today marks what would have been the 65th birthday of Mr. Gil Scott-Heron. Few artists have had the social impact that Gil had through out his career as an activist, a poet, an author, and a vocalist. Always honest with himself and with his audience, his music defined a generation. I could go on for hours talking about Gil, but there are people far better than I to put his life into words. So I’ll speak about his music and the difference it made in my life. I was introduced to Gil in my teenage years because I heard Chuck D talk about him during an interview. I was a huge Public Enemy fan, growing up, which could explain a lot about me, I suppose. Of course, I was unable to jump on my computer and go to Youtube and listen to him. No, I had to find his music, it came in the form of a tape I bought at my local Disc Jockey store. The only thing they had available was a sort of compilation of his early 70s stuff called The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. I bought it on CD a few years later, which I still have in my possession. The cassette is long gone though. I remember listening to it and being in awe. His voice had so much power, yet humility. He was outspoken, yet there was this timid quality to him. Of course, I was a few years away from discovering things about his drug addictions and personal troubles. However, I think that I knew all along. Because it’s there in his music. I was immediately immersed in the music and the emotions it stirred up in me. It was similar to the feeling I got when Public Enemy sang “Shut Em Down” or “By The Time I Get To Arizona”, but it was deeper and touched my essence in a way I had not experienced before. To This day, very few artists evoke this same feeling to me. I’m thankful for the presence of Gil Scott-Heron in my life, I’m thankful that he expressed himself to the fullest in his music. Sadly, he passed away on May 27th, 2011, which was my 34th birthday. A particularly dark period in my own life, if I can be forthcoming. His music helped get me through this time. I have been listening to Gil for only 20 years or so and his music is as pure and meaningful to me now as it was then, if not more so. Sir, thank you and I hope your soul is at rest now, with no pain and no addiction. I can only imagine how bright your star shines now, as it shone with brilliance while you were here. I learned life lessons while listening to your music. You exposed problems within the black community, the white community, the American community, and within the world community. You did so with dignity and you gave us all food for thought. We owe you a immeasurable debt, and I have vowed to celebrate your life every day. I hope others do the same.
Gil Scott-Heron – Me And The Devil
Taken from his last official release I’m New Here. An updating of his track “The Bottle”, it offers a deep introspective glimpse into the tormented psyche of one of the last century’s greatest artists.
GIl Scott-Heron – Home Is Where The Hatred Is
Pieces Of A Man was a beautiful album, “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” shows Gil’s ability to draw on his own personal life for inspiration. Gil dives deep into waters of drug addiction and the human side of it from an addicts point of view. Cast off by his entire family because of his addictions, who only pays lip service in offering help.
Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Peace Go With You, Brother
It wasn’t all about inner demons and the troubles that come with them, even more prevalent in Gil’s music was his social consciousness. Gil always seemed to tell it like it was, is, and will always be. His honesty in dealing with himself and with the world around him made him a invaluable.
Gil Scott-Heron – Message To The Messengers
Long considered one of the godfathers of rap music, Gil came back in ’94 in order to respond to all the rappers claiming to be influenced by him. Always aware of what was going on, this song is just as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. He takes to teaching on the message behind his music and the use of the word rap music has long used to describe women on song.
Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces Of A Man (Live at NYC Central Park Summerstage)
One of my absolute favorite tracks of all-time, here it was performed live 11 months before the passing of the legend. Originally written from various influences in his life, the song seemed to take on a an even more personal vibe performed live in the twilight of his life.
Gil Scott-Heron – Alien (Hold On To Your Dreams)
A stripped down version of Gil and Brian Jackson’s track from the album 1980. This version will be featured on a new album released via XL Recordings. Nothing New will be available on Record Store Day (April 19th) on 12″ only, and limited to 3000 copies. The project was recorded while Gil was making his last album I’m New Here and will feature songs from various points in Gil’s career performed with just Gil and a piano.