Gil Scott-Heron, a bluesologist, cultural anthropologist and black icon

Gil Scot-Heron is the modern day god-father of rap, although he held the title with ambivalence while he was still alive, insisting he was rather, a "bluesologist," someone who is concerned with the origin of the blues. Regardless, hip-hop, soul, funk and acid jazz were all influenced by the reality of Scott-Heron's lyricism and musical dynamism.

Born in Chicago, an American poet, musician and black culture anthropologist, Scott-Heron swayed the masses with his lyrical content chock full of socio-economic and political themes. He described, with clever experience, the plight of black people and mainstream influence on black people. Poems like "Whitey on the Moon" hold as much accepted authenticity as they do controversy.

Scott-Heron's determination, descriptive writing style and realism can be heard in artists from the likes of Saul Williams to Method Man, to Kanye West who has used Scott-Heron's work on numerous albums. West sampled the poet's famous "Home is Where the Hatred Is" for his sophomore effort, Late Registration, and again on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy where Scott-Heron is featured on "Who Will Survive in America."

An incredible writer, and curator of black art, Winter in America, is one of the greatest pieces of writing and spoken word in history. "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" incited the masses and challenged an archaic approach to living in ignorance.

"We Almost Lost Detroit" is a poignant look at society's fall from grace. Writers, poets, other visionaries were all taken with Scott-Heron's longevity in the game and ability to speak on science of life from a variety of perspectives. After a sixteen-year hiatus, he released I'm New Here in 2010. Tracks from this album were later flipped by super producer Jamie XX for We're New Here, spawning the title track of Drake's latest album, Take Care. The list of artists whom he's worked with includes, Common, Mos Def and a slew of other significant rap and performer names.

When he died in May 2011, tributes poured in from artists far and wide. Adele dedicated "To Make You Feel My Love" to the fallen creator when she performed in Denver last May, and there was a beautiful tribute held in the Five Points neighborhood to paint the important of Scott Heron's influence on us all.

A black icon, innovator, and fearless activist, Scott-Heron lived a very whole life and gave a tremendous amount to American culture.

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Ru Johnson
Contact: Ru Johnson

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