Gil Scott Heron

Gil Scott Heron

Gil Scott Heron – the legendary poet, singer, revolutionary and musical innovator – sadly passed away on May 27th, at the age of 62. He was without a doubt a genius, and one of the most important cultural revolutionaries of our time, speaking from the heart about poverty, inequality, racism, apartheid, drug addiction and more. In the words of Dream Hampton:

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.

Heron was in many ways the key cultural voice of the black power movement of the 1970s, and he noted Malcolm X, Langston Hughes and Huey P Newton among his influences. His combination of militant poetry and music served as one of the key precursors of hip-hop, especially in its conscious/political form. As the legendary Chuck D said via Twitter: “RIP GSH…and we do what we do and how we do because of you.”

When fans found out last year that Gil Scott Heron was booked to play in Tel Aviv, they formed a campaign to show Heron that to break the cultural boycott of Israel would be a violation of the principles he had upheld his whole life. To his great credit, he cancelled the gig.

Gil Scott Heron will be greatly missed, but his music and words will continue to inspire and educate.

If you haven’t got his albums yet, you need to catch up quick! In the meantime, here are a few highlights.