The revolution will not be televised any more for Gil Scott-Heron, who died over the weekend. The iconic music legend who many cite as the godfather of hip hop for his spoken word masterpieces had been on a European tour when he fell ill. Scott-Heron didn’t like being deemed the ‘godfather of hip hop’, preferring to say that his music was ‘bluesology’, a mixture of poetry, soul, blues and jazz “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.”
Scott-Heron’s 1970 work , ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is considered a masterpiece, with its fierce critique of the mass media and the perceived racism in it coming in for a caning from his sharp pen. “The revolution will not be right back after a message about a white tornado, white lightning or white people,” he sang. Scott-Heron had only recently released an album which had garnered much critical claim after being released from prison on drug possession charges.
He was HIV positive and had battled drug and addiction issues throughout his career, saying of his battles “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.” Scott-Heron was most recently sampled on Kanye West’s single ‘The People’.