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‘Godfather of Rap’ Gil Scott-Heron Dead at Age 62

Gil Scott-Heron
Anna Webber, Getty Images

After falling ill on a trip to Europe, Gil Scott-Heron died on May 27 in New York City at the age of 62. The songwriter, poet and author was considered one of the pioneers of rap and hip-hop, and his music has influenced countless artists over the decades.

Gil Scott -Heron was born in Chicago, Ill., but was raised in Jackson, Tenn., until moving to New York City after his mother died when he was 13. He went on to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, since his biggest inspiration, African-American poet Langston Hughes, also attended the school.

The poet/songwriter began recording spoken-word music in 1970 with the release of his first LP ‘Small Talk at 125th and Lenox.’ Throughout his career, his style continuously evolved, recording more than a dozen albums on controversial issues like apartheid, nuclear power, and homophobia.

His powerful music left its mark on various genres that were developing at the time, including rap, hip-hop, and neo soul — which earned him the nickname the ‘Godfather of Rap’ (a title he did not like) and ‘the black Bob Dylan.’

After his passing, many musicians began to express their thoughts on Twitter. After hearing the news, Usher posted this tweet: “I just learned of the lost of a very important poet…R.I.P. Gil Scott Heron. “The revolution will be live!!”….URIV.” Public Enemy member Chuck D also tweeted: “RIP GSH..and we do what we do and how we do because of you.And to those that don’t know tip your hat with a hand over your heart & recognize.” Eminem also writes, “RIP Gil Scott-Heron. He influenced all of hip-hop.”

Rest in peace, Gil Scott-Heron. Your influence will never be forgotten.

Watch the Gil Scott-Heron ‘Me and the Devil’ Video

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