Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fathers of Rap, Volume Four: Gil Scott-Heron

In the words of Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron was "the link between 'Trane and Malcolm X." This juxtaposition is an interesting one - one which alludes to, arguably, the very genesis of hip hop: the culmination of both African American cultural and artistic contributions (i.e. the blues, jazz) and a history of resisting racism, and fighting for social change and civil rights. Lifting these two cultural pillars, Gil Scott-Heron fused them as one, laying the groundwork for a new genre of music which meshed spoken (or rapped) word poetry over rhythmic backdrops. And you wonder why they call him the "godfather of rap"!

For this fourth volume of my Fathers of Rap series, I've selected a handful of hip hop tracks which sample Gil Scott-Heron's work and/or serve as tributes to the pioneering jazz-funk bluesman. It's a bit woeful to think that three of the four compilations thus far (Isaac Hayes; Michael Jackson; Gil Scott-Heron) have been released only in the wake of the musicians' passing. Our living legends count dwindles with each new year, bearing new reminders to show love and honor their contributions while they're still with us. Let's make an effort to do just that. But first, a moment of silence music for the late, great Gil Scott-Heron. Enjoy... and turn it up!!