Race is such an amazingly complex issue in America, and one which I am regularly asked about overseas, particularly since the emergence of Barack Obama as a genuine contender for the presidency. Of course, it is not just an “issue” – those complexities equate to a legacy and an ongoing nightmare of suffering – of impoverishment, marginalization, violence, waste, neglect, “dreams deferred.”
Music has always been one of the meeting grounds, and also battle grounds, of black and white in the United States. The recurring meetings and mash-ups within American music of black sounds and white sounds – the clashes and combinations, recuperations and reverberations – have created the sound of the 20th century, and are responsible for the bulk of the United States’ genuine contributions to world culture: jazz, blues, R&B, rock ‘n roll and hip hop.
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
but it may be podcast and blogged
I recently learned that Gil Scott-Heron apparently has a serious crack problem. Given his past, his fierce advocacy of a black radicalism and critiques of addictions of various kinds, there’s a bitter irony to this coda to a career that was an inspiration to a generation of poets, musicians and radicals.
Gil Scott-Heron is a writer, poet and performer best known for his socially conscious music, including most famously “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” as well as “Whitey on the Moon,” “Sex Education Ghetto-Style,” “Home is Where the Hatred Is” (memorably recorded by Esther Phillips) and his scathing critique of Ronald Reagan’s presidential candidacy, “B Movie.” He is considered by many to be the grandfather of rap and had a particularly powerful influence on music fusing jazz with funk, and later hip hop. Continue reading