Saturday, 28 May 2011

I'm new here.

The legendary Gil Scott Heron has died, aged 62. The details of his death are still unclear, but apparently he picked up an illness whilst visiting Europe, and was unable to recover.

Heron was often described as the "Godfather of Rap", and with good reason. During the 1970s he, along with university friend Brian Jackson, pioneered a minimalist sound of percussion underlying a poetic vocal sound. He, however, rejected this notion; "If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating 'hooks', which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion."

His music was heavily political, his musical style lending itself to his deep interest in the civil rights movement, and he became one of the first singer songwriters to personally attack the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Throughout his life he struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol, leading to a spell in jail, but this only furthered his music impetus; "When you wake up every day and you're in the joint, not only do you have a problem but you have a problem with admitting you have a problem."

Heron's final release was the acclaimed album I'm New Here, released in 2010. RIP Gil Scott Heron, 1949-2011, your influence will be remembered for a long time yet.

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