May 28, 2011

Sach O shouldn’t be writing before coffee.

I suppose if I’m up posting this early on a Saturday, I should say something about the untimely passing of Gil Scott Heron. I’m not a fan of writing obituaries for people I never met so I’ll keep it brief: look past all of the “forefather of Hip-Hop” talk and even the politics that dominated so much of his recording and you’ll find a insightful, conflicted, funky and rewarding musician whose true talent can’t be measured in times sampled or mentions in Jamie XX interviews. Take Racetrack in France for example, if you remove the socio-political undertones of African-American musicians finding greater success and freedom abroad, you’ve got a travelers lament of the most universal kind, a song that anyone who’s ever been to a foreign land can relate to.

We Almost lost Detroit meanwhile – famous as the source for Brown Skin Lady – feels just as relevant now as the day it was recorded in its damning accusation that “when it comes to people’s safety, money will win out every time.” That Heron’s death comes just as he was finally mounting a comeback and getting props from the Fader set is devastating but admittedly not totally unexpected, neither soul men and poets tend to be known for long healthy lives and the man’s excesses were well known. Still, it’s a devastating loss for lovers of good, meaningful music and a dark day for those who still believe in the idea that art should challenge not only aesthetic tastes but greater ideas of how we live. R.I.P Gil Scott Heron.

Download:
MP3: Gil Scott Heron – Racetrack in France
MP3: Gil Scott Heron – We Almost Lost Detroit