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Tributes from everyone from Public Enemy’s Chuck D to Eminem to filmmaker Michael Moore have been flooding the Internet since Friday’s passing of poet-musician Gil Scott-Heron.
Scott-Heron, considered the “Godfather of Rap” for his spoken-word work, died Friday in a Manhattan hospital. His death was announced on Twitter Friday night by his British publisher Jamie Byng who wrote, “Just heard the very sad news that my dear friend and one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, the great Gil Scott-Heron, died today.”
Scott-Heron often brushed off his influence on rap, notes the New York Times, but influencers of the genre did not. Chuck D. told the New Yorker, “You can go into [Allen] Ginsberg and the Beat poets and [Bob] Dylan, but Gil Scott-Heron is the manifestation of the modern word. He and the Last Poets set the stage for everyone else.”
The poet’s best known piece is the early ’70s song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” The song referenced Vietnam, pop culture icons and political figures, urging listeners to think for themselves. The song itself was used throughout the years in samples by Common, Tupac Shakur and Kanye West, while Scott-Heron himself was name-checked on LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge.”
Richard Russell of XL Recordings wrote Saturday in his tribute to Scott-Heron: “He had a fierce intelligence, and a way with words which was untouchable; an incredible sense of humour and a gentleness and humanity that was unique to him. Gil shunned all the trappings of fame and success. He could have had all those things. But he was greater than that. He seemed wholly uninterested in money.
To my knowledge he never accepted an award. He always wanted everyone else to receive credit for their work. He is the only artist I’ve ever worked with who requested that the studio engineers photo be given equal prominence to his own on his website.
His talent was immense. He was a master lyricist, singer, orator, and keyboard player. His spirit was immense. He channeled something that people derived huge benefit from.”
Funk legend Bootsy Collins tells THR:
“Brother Gil was in a class room by himself.
He taught from his heart about true Funk, true Blues, with the coolness of Jazz but with the true Spiritual Soul of how we as people dealt with it.
When you get the chance to dig deep into this brother’s being, you will find these three Seeds at his core:
Loyalty over Royalty, Respect over Neglect, and a Commitment that ensures Persistence effort at any cost.
That is part of what made this creative force of nature such a powerful Poetic world Boss.
Because he was so hidden within the people he loved most, the major market people could not see him because he was the forest that hid the tree’s.
He constantly worked on getting the message out to the people who needed to be fed some real Soul Food and not this BS that is being tossed around like a piece of paper that is not worth the paper that it is printed on. Brother Gil gave you all he had and then he made his exit to the Mothership.
I saw his smile, as he said I will prepare a seat for you when you do the do, right on brother Gil, right on!
I think I can speak for Funkateers everywhere, we will miss brother Gil, but we will celebrate his efforts to make all of us a better people.
Thank you brother Gil!”
Additional Twitter tributes are below:
Eminem — “RIP Gil Scott-Heron, he influenced all of hip-hop.”
Chuck D — “RIP GSH,,and we do what we do and who we do because of you and to those that don’t know, tip your hat with a hand over your heart & recognize.”
Michael Moore — R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron. He gave us “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” & “We Almost Lost Detroit.” And, in essence, he gave us hip-hop.
“WE ALMOST LOST DETROIT” A chilling riff on partial-meltdown of Fermi1 nuke powerplant 30 mi fr Detroit on 10/5/66.
Usher — “I just learned of the loss of a very important poet…R.I.P. Gil Scott Heron. ‘The revolution will be live!!'”
Snoop Dogg — “RIP to 1 of tha greats, gil scott heron.”
Sarah Silverman — “RIP Gil Scott Heron who mirrored ugliness w beauty audacity & valor…”
Geoff Barrow, Portishead –“Gill Scott heron // RIP / inspiration to us all”
Scott-Heron explains “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” below:
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