Gil Scott-Heron, Spoken Word Artist and Musician, dies at 62

Associated Press is reporting that musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron, whose work has been heralded by many as a forefather to Hip Hop, died Friday May 27, 2011. Scott-Heron had reportedly fallen ill after his return from a recent European trip. His death was later confirmed by representatives from his record label and publisher. He was 62.

Born In Chicago, raised in Tennessee the musician moved to New York during his high school years and remained a long time Harlem resident. As a student at Lincoln University he penned his first novel “The Vulture”. Soon after he released a book of poetry ““Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” and a second novel, “The Nigger Factory.” Looking to reach a wider audience for his message he subsequently turned to music.

Like the Last Poets and the Watts Prophets, Scott-Heron infused his music with a thought provoking lyrics paired with a mix of soulful jazz to deliver his message. While at Lincoln he met longtime musical partner Brian Jackson who help him craft the unique sound of his catalog. Best known for his 1970 song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” he often stressed the importance having a message in the music. That artistic integrity was a part of the reason that he was the first artist signed by Clive Davis to Arista Records. Artists like Public Enemy, Dead Prez and Talib Kweli may have what appears to be a direct connect to his lineage , many through out the Hip Hop community have sampled or used Scott-Heron’s work as the basis for their work. Most recently Kanye West built on his work for his latest album. (SEE BELOW)

At times in his career he was often caught up by the same demons that he brought to light. He found himself convicted twice for cocaine possession and he spent time at Rikers for parole violation. Those demons led to a drought of studio work and live shows until his 2010 album I’m New Here with indie lablel XL. The inspiring power of his music will have a lasting legacy that will touch generations to come.

Rest In Power Gil Scott-Heron, 1949-2011

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on the meaning of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (thanks to