#blogjammin: why i’m excited – gil scott heron

those of you who follow RQT regularly will know that i’m super-stoked about having been invited to blog for greenbelt_ this year. today saw an intensification of the anticipation, as my official status was upgraded from ‘sleeping’ to ‘active’. i was handed a padded, manilla envelope by a hatted stranger in a park, which contained (the envelope not the park) a beat-up Walkman and a metal cassette which both self-destructed after delivering me details of the first assignment.

my mission, should i have chosen to accept it (which i have), was/is to contribute to the Why I’m Excited series of posts, detailing one of the many reasons why i’m excited about this year’s festival. i would never tell my ‘handler’, but this mission is ridiculously easy because, despite the fact that their are myriad reasons for me to choose from, this first choice is insanely easy, all thanks to one man: Gil Scott-Heron.

i first encountered GSH as a musically and politically naïve 13 year old. from that day, when i first heard the passionate, political and deeply perceptive proto-rap of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (which regular RQT readers will know as #showertune no. 28), to this, i have wallowed in his particular brand of comes-from-and-speaks-to-the soul music.

if you’re a soul fan and you’ve never heard his velvet (someways smooth, others rough, occasionally crushed, but always beautiful), then you’ve sorely missed out. if you think of yourself as a hiphop fan, then there is a significant piece of your understanding missing unless you have traced things back from Blackalicious, Aesop Rock and Saul Williams to GSH and before him The Last Poets and The Watts Prophets. if you like jazz or blues you will find solace and familiarity in GSH’s foundations, his obvious influences, and the references his music leaves behind everywhere it walks (seek out, for example, Lady Day & John Coltrane).

if you’ve struggled with addiction then you will recognise the special torment in much of his work generated by his decades-long battle with drugs and resultant spells in prison. if you are motivated by those who speak out and strive for social change, then you will no doubt see truth and hope in the unrelenting, bruised but strong humanity of his music, novels (The Vulture and The Nigger Factory) and poetry, and the dedication with which he has campaigned for change and sought to highlight those who have done the same.

basically, what i’m trying to say is that there are 1001 reasons to be excited about Gil Scott Heron being at greenbelt_ and if you can’t relate to at least one of them, then you seriously need to check yourself.


this post also appears on the official greenbelt_ blog:


Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: