Gil Scott-Heron - “Winter In America” (Live)
It’s with heavy hearts that music fans bring in this long weekend - we just lost one of the most unique and influential voices of the last 40 years: Gil Scott-Heron. The poet, R & B artist, and hip-hop godfather was 62. In the 70’s, his blend of spoken-word soul covered issues of race, city life, politics. His wasn’t just a topical style though - his voice was nuanced and insightful. His classics include “We Almost Lost Detroit,” which dealt with the partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor in Detroit and “Home is Where the Hatred is,” a impassioned cry from within the depths oppressive inner-city. While he wasn’t always fond of hip-hop’s direction, his influence - implicit or explicit - is undeniable, most notably with his prototypical socially critical rap.
Younger fans of contemporary hip-hop might recognize some of his music too, sampled by the likes of Kanye West, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Blackalicious, and many more.
In 2010, he released the critically lauded I’m New Here, his first album of new material since 1994. Unfortunately, the resurgence in Scott-Heron’s career and, most importantly, his life, has come to a premature end. As summer season dawns, we remember one of the best who ever did it. Rest in Power.