Wednesday, February 09, 2005

message to the messengers

gils, originally uploaded by thebeathunters.

TVT records, 1994
i won't even try to sum up gil scott-heron's career and influence on contemporary music and politics. considered as the hip-hop godfather, he embodies, as mos def once said, "the elder statesman and the man on the corner at the same time." seminal albums path his way, starting with "SMALL TALK AT 125th AND LENNOX" (flying dutchman, 1970) up to "SPIRITS" (tvt,1994), his only studio album in the past 20 years (another example if needed, of the record industry's insanity). backed up as in many of his classics by brian jackson on piano and a bunch of jazz cats, it's an album to be rediscovered again and again for its pure musical genius and accurate analysis of modern issues. from his "message to the messengers": an indictment of the immorality in much of hip-hop's lyrics (still pertinent today), "give her a call": a beautiful introspective ballad, "spirits": based on john coltrane's music or "don't give up", produced by ali shaheed muhammed of a tribe called quest, the whole album is incredibly modern and what
strikes me the most is the power and beauty of the words.
"i'm addicted to creating" gil said, "i use other things from time to time"...
he experienced many bad trips, including lately a 2003 jail sentence in rikers island penitentiary for possession of illegal drugs. now 55 years old and released last summer, he's back on the harlem block. if he plays anywhere near you, don't miss your chance to catch his genius live, as his jams are the real thing and his future in music might be shadowed by his old demons.

1 comment:

Junior said...

Great track selection there!

Saw him in London a couple of years ago and he was absolutely superb.