On Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 10PM/ET TV One’s NAACP Image Award-winning hour-long music documentary Unsung features Harlemite Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron was an American soul/jazz poet, musician, author and recording artist whose syncopated spoken style and critiques of social and political issues of the time in pieces like his best-known composition “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” made him a notable voice of black protest culture in the 1970s and an important early influence on every generation of hip-hop.
The video from the “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”:
His collaborative efforts with musician Brian Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues, and soul, as well as lyrical content concerning the current issues at hand, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron. His own term for his form of expression was “bluesologist,” which he defined as “a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues.” His music, most notably on Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped stimulate later African-American music genres such as hip-hop and neo soul.
Along with the work of the Last Poets, a group of black nationalist performance poets who emerged alongside him in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Scott-Heron established much of the attitude and the stylistic vocabulary that would characterize the socially conscious work of early rap groups like Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions. And he has remained part of the DNA of hip-hop having been sampled by A-list stars like Kanye West. Beyond influencing contemporary musicians, Scott-Heron remained active until his death, and in 2010 released his first new album in 16 years, entitled I’m New Here. A memoir he had been working on for years up to the time of his death, The Last Holiday, was also published, subsequently in January 2012.