The social commentary of writer, poet, singer, teacher, and activist Gil Scott-Heron has kept a critical eye on the many social and political injustices that continue to plague the country and throughout the world. Heron and his co-writing partner, Brian Jackson, for over a decade, would write and record some of the most thought provoking songs and poems. I’m Brian Pace, coming up on the next Pace Report, the father of conscious rap, Gil Scott-Heron, breaks his silence after many years of being away from the limelight.
During the early 1970’s, African-Americans were craving and embracing a more powerful and conscious message that was starting to be heard from musicians like Sly Stone to James Brown to Curtis Mayfield. These musicians, unlike the vocal and political styling of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, woke up a new generation of listeners to become more aware of their social and economic surroundings, as well as becoming a new voice for change.
On the afternoon of May 27th, 2011, the world lost an icon that touched a light on many in the rap community as well as writers and poets like myself. Gil Scott-Heron made his transition at the age of 62 at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City.
This interview comes from my radio archives from the Martin Luther King Performance at SOB's in NYC on 2/17/2009. Gil recently played two sold out shows and brought out his older and new fans to hear his views on life, politics, and pop culture.
Heron is considered the father of conscious rap that paved the way for MC’s and singers like Mos Def, KRS-One, Talib Kweli, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Black Thought, and Paris. Not only is he an accomplished singer/songwriter, Gil’s also an exceptional novelist and poet. His first two books, “The Vulture” and “The Nigger Factory” were both written when he dropped out of undergrad while attending Lincoln College. It was at Lincoln where he would also form one of his most creative and long-lasting partnerships, also shift from writing to music.
In 1970, Gil was living in Harlem, where a major arts scene was taking place. Coffee shops were the new platform for poets like The Last Poets and Gil. His landmark recording “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox” set the wave for the spoken word and the rap genre that would dominate the radio waves now.
On my second part of my exclusive interview with Gil Scott-Heron, he talks about his iconic classics “The Bottle” and “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and the impact he’s made in popular music. For the Pace Report, I’m Brian Pace.