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DOGMA: The Revolution Will Be Narcotized

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NEW YORKER: Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron is frequently called the “godfather of rap,” which is an epithet he doesn’t really care for. In 1968, when he was nineteen, he wrote a satirical, spoken-word piece called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” It was released on a very small label in 1970. It is the species of classic that sounds as subversive and intelligent now as it did when it was new. Scott-Heron calls himself a bluesologist. He is sixty-one, tall and scrawny. Writer visits Scott-Heron at his apartment where he was watching a tape of the Rumble in the Jungle fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. “I like to see unbelievable odds because that’s what I’ve been facing all these years. When I feel like giving up, I like to watch this,” Scott-Heron said. Some of the people the writer spoke with said they preferred to remember Scott-Heron as he had been before he had begun avidly smoking crack. MORE

red-gil.thumbnail.pngSPINNER: Besides his intense social conscience, Scott-Heron became known for his unblinking portrayals of the perils of substance abuse in songs like ‘Angel Dust’ and the dance-oriented ‘The Bottle,’ the biggest “hit” of this hip-hop godfather’s modest commercial career. So it came as a disappointment to many of Scott-Heron’s fans when his long, frequent absences from performing beginning in the late 1970s were attributed to a lifelong struggle with booze and drugs. He hasn’t always acknowledged it. “I’ve never seen anybody abuse a substance,” he told this writer a decade ago. “I’ve seen some substances abuse people.” After a 2001 arrest for cocaine possession, he has been in and out of prison since. Earlier this year, Scott-Heron released his first album in years, the critically acclaimed ‘I’m New Here,’ a collaboration with XL Recordings owner Richard Russell. MORE

THE TELEGRAPH: As well as working with one of the most diverse – and successful – rosters of any contemporary record label, Russell recently found richruss.thumbnail.jpgtime to return to the studio, picking up where he left off in the ’90s. In February, the label released a comeback album by pioneering poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron, I’m New Here, which Russell produced, creating a sparse, understated backdrop to showcase the musings of one of America’s most distinctive black voices. Critics were united in praise of the project, which re-imagined Gil Scott-Heron for a new generation, as Rick Rubin did Johnny Cash with American Recordings. MORE

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