W

hen Gil Scott-Heron died in May 2011, Public Enemy’s Chuck D hailed him as “the manifestation of the modern word”. At his funeral, Kanye West performed Lost in the World/Who Will Survive in America, which sampled his spoken word . During the attempt to overthrow Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Scott-Heron’s most famous track, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, was playing in Tahrir Square.

From Kweli and Kanye to Kendrick Lamar, Scott-Heron’s catalogue has long been a vital source of inspiration for hip-hop artists. But his influence is far broader than just music. He has been a guiding light as a singer and proto-rapper, novelist and poet, teacher and civil-rights activist.

Gil was a legend to me as a kid,” says rapper Talib Kweli, one of several artists appearing at The Revolution Will Be Live, a concert tribute to Gil Scott-Heron in Liverpool.

“Kanye West, Jay Z, Ice Cube … mention Gil Scott-Heron and they will go on about how he’s influenced them. Put it this way: without Gil Scott-Heron there would be no Kanye talking about New Slaves.”

From Kweli and Kanye to Kendrick Lamar, Scott-Heron’s catalogue has long been a vital source of inspiration for hip-hop artists. But his influence is far broader than just music. He has been a guiding light as a singer and proto-rapper, novelist and poet, teacher and civil-rights activist.

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