CDs by Gil-Scott Heron
South Africa To South Carolina (1976)
In America (1974) /
Of A Man (1971) /
The First Minute Of A New Day
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Books by Gil-Scott Heron
The Vulture and The Nigger Factory)
Small Talk At 125th And Lenox
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Black History (audio)
I was wondering about our
and digging through the rubble
and to say, the least somebody went
through a hell of a lot of trouble
to make sure that when we looked things up
we wouldn't fair too well
and we would come up with totally unreliable
pictures of ourselves.
But I compiled what few facts I could,
I mean, such as they are,
to see if we could find out a little bit of something
and this is what I got so far:
First, white folks discovered
they claimed it fair and square.
Cecil Rhodes couldn't have been robbing nobody
'cause, hell, there
was nobody there.
White folks brought all the civilization,
’cause there wasn't none around.
'how could the folks be civilized
when nobody was writing nothing down?'
And just to prove all their suspicions,
well, it didn't take too long.
They found out there were whole tribes of people
— in plain sight —
running around with no clothes on. That's right!
The men, the women, the young and old,
righteous folks covered their eyes.
And no time was spent considering the environment.
Hell no! this just wasn't civilized!
And another piece of information they had
or at least this is what we were taught
is that “unlike the civilized people of Europe”
these tribal units actually fought!
And yes, there were some “crude implements”
and yes, there was “primitive art”
and yes they were masters of hunting and fishing
and courtesy came from the heart.
And yes there was love, and medicine, religion,
inter-tribal communication by drum.
But no paper no pencils no other utensils
and hell, these folks never even heard of a gun.
And this is why the colonies came
to stabilize the land.
Because the Dark Continent had copper and gold
and the discoverers had themselves a plan.
They would “discover” all the places with promise.
And didn't need no titles or deeds.
Then they would appoint people to make everything legal,
to sanction the trickery and greed.
And back in the jungle when the natives got restless
they would call it “guerilla attack”!
and they would never describe that folks finally got
and decided they would fight back.
But still we are victims of word games,
semantics is always a bitch:
places once referred to as under-developed”
are now called “mineral rich.”
And the game goes on eternally
unity kept just beyond reach
Egypt and Libya used to be in Africa,
but they've now been moved to the “Middle East.”
There are examples galore I assure you,
but if interpreting was left up to me
I'd be sure every time folks knew this version wasn't
which is why it is called “His-story.”
* * * *
Scott-Heron, Spoken-Word Musician, Dies at 62—By The
Associated Press—May 27, 2011—Musician Gil Scott-Heron, who
helped lay the groundwork for rap by fusing minimalistic
percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry on songs
such as "The
Revolution Will Not Be Televised," died Friday at age 62. A
friend, Doris C. Nolan, who answered the telephone listed for
his Manhattan recording company, said he died in the afternoon
at St. Luke's Hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a
European trip. "We're all sort of shattered," she said.
Scott-Heron's influence on rap was such that he sometimes was
referred to as the Godfather of Rap, a title he rejected.
"If there was any
individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have
been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with
complete progression and repeating 'hooks,' which made them more
like songs than just recitations with percussion," he wrote in
the introduction to his 1990 collection of poems, "Now and
Then." He referred to his signature mix of percussion, politics
and performed poetry as bluesology or Third World music. But
then he said it was simply "black music or black American
music." "Because Black Americans are now a tremendously diverse
essence of all the places we've come from and the music and
rhythms we brought with us," he wrote. . . .
Scott-Heron recorded the
song that would make him famous, "The
Revolution Will Not Be Televised," which critiqued mass
media, for the album
125th and Lenox in Harlem in the 1970s. He followed up
that recording with more than a dozen albums, initially
collaborating with musician Brian Jackson. His most recent album
was "I'm New Here," which he began recording in 2007 and was
released in 2010. Throughout his musical career, he took on
political issues of his time, including apartheid in South
Africa and nuclear arms. He had been shaped by the politics of
the 1960s and the black literature, especially of the Harlem
Scott-Heron was born in
Chicago on April 1, 1949. He was raised in Jackson, Tenn., and
in New York before attending college at Lincoln University in
Pennsylvania. Before turning to music, he was a novelist, at age
19, with the publication of
The Vulture, a murder mystery.He
also was the author of
The Nigger Factory, a social
* * * *
Gil Scott-Heron was the bridge between The Black Arts Movement
and Hip Hop. Surely we are from Allah and to Him we return.—Marvin X
* * * *
Gil Scott-Heron dies aged 62—Poet and songwriter was hailed as
'Godfather of Rap' after penning "The
Revolution Will Not Be Televised"—David
* * *
1 April 1949, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Raised in Jackson,
Tennessee, by his grandmother, Scott-Heron moved to New York at
the age of 13. His estranged father played for Glasgow Celtic, a
Scottish football team. Astonishingly precocious, Scott-Heron
had published two novels (The Vulture and The Nigger Factory)
plus a book of poems (Small Talk At 125th And Lenox) by
met musician Brian Jackson when both were students at Lincoln
University, Pennsylvania, and in 1970 they formed the Midnight
Band to play their original blend of jazz, soul and prototype
rap music. Small Talk At 125th And Lenox was mostly an album of
poems (from his book of the same name), but later albums showed
Scott-Heron developing into a skilled songwriter whose work was
soon covered by other artists: for example, LaBelle recorded his
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and Esther
Phillips made a gripping version of "Home Is Where The
1973, Scott-Heron had a minor hit with "The Bottle," a
song inspired by a group of alcoholics who congregated outside
his and Jackson's communal house in Washington, DC.
In America (on which Jackson was co-credited for the first
time) and The First Minute Of A New Day, the latter for
new label Arista Records, were both heavily jazz-influenced, but
later sets saw Scott-Heron and Jackson exploring more
pop-orientated formats, and in 1976 they scored a hit with the
disco-based protest single, "Johannesburg".
South Africa To South Carolina (Arista 1976)
In America (Strata-East 1974)
Of A Man (Flying Dutchman 1971)
posted 14 September 2007
* * * * *
Gil Scott-Heron is back—and as challenging as ever—By Patrick
Neate—When I suggest to Scott-Heron that his work has been a
victim of his convictions, he responds with enthusiasm: “Did we
make people feel uncomfortable? Maybe we did, but that’s for
them to judge. Like I say, we’ve been heard of more than we been
heard. So, if they felt uncomfortable, at least that would mean
they heard it. . . .
“As far as I’m concerned,
what we were doing was necessary. When we released Johannesburg,
people didn’t want to talk about South Africa; so we were taking
a chance. I felt somebody’s got to bring it up, but I didn’t
necessarily intend it to be me. I would have rather it was
congressmen or those intended to talk about these things, but
they wouldn’t. But if my children were to ask me what I’d said,
I wanted to have an answer. Nowadays, there are more artists
prepared to address these issues and that makes it harder to
control. But then they could control it simply by removing my
stuff from the shelves. And they did. Now they’d have to take
out half the f***ing store.” He laughs heartily.
* * * * *
The Vulture and The Nigger Factory
is an omnibus edition of the two highly successful
novels from the early 1970s by one of America's most
outspoken and important postwar commentators on
race, politics, and culture
highly successful two novels are now packaged
together for the first time.
The Vulture—first published in
1970 and digging the rhythms of the street, where
the biggest deal life has to offer is getting high,
The Vulture is a hip and
fast-moving thriller. It relates the strange story
of the murder of a teenage boy called John
Lee—telling it in the words of four men who knew him
when he was just another kid working after school,
hanging out, waiting for something to happen. Just
who did kill John Lee and why?
‘Here lies a
man with a kind heart and a good will.’ . . . All
the nice comments that were whispered about you . .
. were as worthless as the air that transported them
from mouth to ear.
The Vulture relates the strange story of
John Lee’s murder—telling it in the words of four men who knew
him when he was just another kid working after school, hanging
out, waiting for something to happen. Just who did kill John Lee
and why? A hip and fast-moving thriller.
The Nigger Factory
is a biting satire set on the campus of Sutton University,
Virginia. The failure of Sutton to embrace the changing
attitudes of the sixties has necessitated has caused
disaffection among the black students and revolution is nigh.
* * * * *
Gil Scott-Heron on You-Tube
Me And The Devil /
We Beg Your
the Messengers /
The Bottle /
Such Thing As A Superman
* * * * *
The 10 Best Gil Scott-Heron Songs
By Michael A. Gonzales
Revolution Will Not Be Televised" (1971)
bare-bones original version was recorded live as a
spoken-word poem on Gil's gritty first album
Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, the song was later
re-recorded with a full band that brought the funk
and the flutes. Years later, Nike jacked the
instrumental track and made the revolution about
basketball with KRS-One rockin' the mic, which
somehow just proved Gil's point all over again.
of a Man" (1971)
The title track
to Gil's debut studio album was a fitting ode to
broken Black men dealing with their issues. Former
Rolling Stone critic Vince Aletti wrote that Heron
sang with an ache in his voice that conveys pain,
bitterness and tenderness. He wasn't lying.
3. "Home is
Where The Hatred Is" (1971)
Funky as hell,
this sad tale of a junkie roaming the urban
landscape of Any Ghetto, U.S.A. prophesied Heron's
own cracked-out existence two decades later. As
Kanye West proved when he sampled the track on
Way Home," this track still feels just as
powerful as it did more than forty years after its
Recorded at D&B
Sound studio outside of Washington, D.C—where Gil
and musical partner Brian Jackson dwelled—this song
was an aural attack on the scandalous politicians
who populated his home turf. Aimed directly at
Tricky Dick Nixon and his crew of crooked cronies,
this Watergate-era song dropped the bomb.
Scott-Heron produced innovative music throughout his
career, he wasn't exactly a "singles" kind of guy.
Still, this track about the the evils of drunkenness
managed to climb to No. 15 on the R&B charts in
1974. While the song's lyrics were serious as a pint
of cheap gin, with its island groove and dope flute
solo (courtesy of Brian Jackson) it was also quite
danceable. According to music biz legend, the
success of this track inspired Clive Davis to sign
Scott-Heron to his newly formed Arista Records.
mid-1970s, a few years before the crack attack that
ate New York City, angel dust became the killer-dilla
drug of choice in hoods across America. Fly, funky
and fantastic, this Gil Scott-Heron anti-drug song
was pure dope.
Almost Lost Detroit" (1977)
Always on the
cutting edge of political commentary, Gil made this
track about the dangers of nuclear power after
reading the John G. Fuller book about the Fermi
power plant that suffered a near meltdown in 1966.
Name-dropping murdered activist and whistle-blower
Karen Silkwood in the lyrics, the song was remade by
indie pop band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. earlier
impossible to visit the place and not feel that a
prisoner could disappear off the face of the earth
and no one would ever know or care," wrote New York
Times journalist Peter Applebome in 1998 about
Louisiana's Angola State Prison. Known as one of the
most brutal prison complexes in the country, Angola
has more inmates on death row than any other
facility in the country. Heron and Jackson wrote
this track about the unfair imprisonment of black
teenager Gary Tyler, who was jailed in 1975 after a
13-year-old white kid was killed during a riot.
Although no weapon was found, Tyler was arrested for
the crime. Supposedly beaten by police, he confessed
and became the youngest person ever sentenced to
death. Although no longer on death row, Tyler is
still an inmate. While Brit artists UB40 ("Tyler")
and Chumbawamba ("Waiting for the Bus") have since
made songs about Tyler-but as in so many other
cases, Gil Scott-Heron was the first
9. "Me and
The Devil" 2010)
music fans know the bugged tale about original
guitar bluesman Robert Johnson, who supposedly sold
his soul to the devil at them there Delta crossroads
in exchange for mastering the axe. Like the iconic
guitarist, Gil Scott-Heron also walked, talked and
played mighty hard on the dark side. With his
beautifully stark cover of Johnson's classic "Me and
the Devil," he embraced that brooding blues
lifestyle with a vengeance.
Take Care of You" (2011)
Even when he
was close to death after years of living on the
edge, smoking crack and going to jail, Gil
Scott-Heron was still capable of great recordings.
Billed as his comeback in 2010, the album I'm New
Here was hailed as one of the best recordings of his
illustrious career. Gil's gravelly version of this
song, first made famous by old-school soul man Brook
Benton, was remixed by Brit producer Jamie xx, who
turned the track into a
dance-floor sensation. More recently Drake and
Rihanna had a huge hit that interpolated the song's
* * *
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.
"Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.
She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—
* * * *
The Last Holiday: A Memoir
By Gil Scott Heron
Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered.
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The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 29 May