Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Before I heard this album, I really only knew Gil Scott-Heron by name. He kind of held some sort of space as this shadowy figure, an icon, to be mentioned in origins of hip-hop essays and shouted out by James Murphy. However when the promotional cycle for I’m New Here started up, the videos and the pieces written started to draw me in.
My curiosity got the better of me and one overcast Vancouver morning I turned on a stream of the album and was immediately sucked into the poet’s world. His voice came out with clarity usually unheard on my crappy dorm room speakers, with an age and authority that is pretty rare in a world of music that is dominated by what is new and youthful. This voice, whether old and doddering, singing or speaking with the utmost gravitas was complimented with a soundscape that was as compelling and contradictory as the man himself. Bristol trip hop next to Kanye’s glossy strings next to skittering beats and bass next to simple guitar plucking.
Ultimately though, what makes this album stand out to me in a year of amazing music, was the fact it offered a different perspective. Instead of hearing from other youths about the seemingly fucked up times we live in, here is this man who’s seen and been through more shit than many of us could imagine. And here he is, while scarred, giving us an album, which suggests after all his tumultuous years, he’s found at least a little solace.
Gil Scott-Heron - Me and The Devil
Gil Scott-Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised