GIL SCOTT HERON TRIBUTE
I remember the second it happened, I was on break from working for a dull home improvement company, we decided to stop for lunch at the pub for a couple of games of pool and a fry up, I was lucky enough to be working with a good friend of mine, Marcus Kuzvinzwa. He was continuously checking for updates on his phone and then he told me the news about Gil Scott-Heron. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, time froze and it’s funny how you think some people can live forever and he was one of those figures.
Gil Scott-Heron has such an empowerment on the way I think, talk and how I reflect my concepts through text and djing. In all honesty, I felt bewildered by everything, even though I was not there to experience what he had to say all those years ago, but I understood exactly what he was trying to do. No matter your age, everyone is entitled to listen to whomever, past or present. A lot of people don’t know the influence he had on genres particularly the ones that revolved around the thoughts of protest and change. Hip Hop and Punk both aim to document the daily conceptions of living through the eyes of a poor adolescent striving to revolutionize political views and their placements within society. They acted as a portal to transcribe stories throughout their followings without having to standby the thoughts of others. It was an inner voice, a voice of authority.
Gil Scott-Heron right at the start of his career recorded some spoken word pieces; his first studio album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox is arguably the birthing stone to hip hop, the very seed that developed the roots of urban psychology. Plastic Pattern People is one of the poems on this album and the reason why I selected it because it gives a listener a window into his mind. Gil Scott-Heron was a man of voice and action later; he didn’t care if he inflicted offense, he used his tongue as a weapon. I love the compassion he had while trying to shake up crowds who were use to one outlook in life; he made the picture 3-dimensional for both races to devour. Gil Scott-Heron was simply a brilliant and brave human being who used his wit and eloquence to attack prejudice and to dig up deep realities. This propelled him throughout the entirety of his life and I feel through all the hardship he had faced, his journey was one of great significance.
Winter in America and Pieces of a Man were the two albums that put his name tattooed on to everybody’s lips. Winter in America shows the sweet nostalgia hope can cause and how quickly the feeling can be lost due to the social issues occurring at the time. Remember this is early 1970; many black families were unsubsidised when it came to collecting benefits to help them live. Many packed together in shacks in gritty communal spaces; the inner city is its better name. Heron lyrics acted as the beacon to that environment. The outer city was a place of ignorance and the only way the inner city could be heard in a literal sense was through the art of music. The album is an assessment on one’s cultural roots in a habitat that can crack under pressure. With Pieces of a Man however, it leaned more towards politics and the unadorned actions of the mass media. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is a perfect example, the stripped down drum beats and the bass line flow like running water to the jumps of the flute. It was a simple music arrangement but it enhanced every word Heron had to say, he didn’t sing the words, he just spoke them fast and to the point. The blue print for rappers was made.
Gil Scott Heron gave music documentation a new leash of life, alot of artists back then were using it to try and numb what was going on, those love songs that make you go all gooey inside, you know the ones i’m talking about, but he kept it true to himself, he stuck to what he believed in. No artist should sell themselves in order to gain acceptance, it the ones that strive to be different, to evolve and give understanding to other people’s lives around them. This man I cannot describe to you enough how much of a effect he has had. His albums, his books, his doped up appearance and appreciation for truth and equality is unmatched. He was one of a kind and a spectator of his hood.
REST IN PEACE