Gil Scott-Heron 1 April 1949 – 27 May 2011.
Above: the track that made him famous and is often cited as the birth of rap (though he rejected the title “Godfather of Rap”). Below, a later message to some of those who followed him:
Hey, yeah, we the same brothas from a long time ago
We was talkin? about television and doin? it on the radio
What we did was to help our generation realize
They had to get out there and get busy cause it wasn?t gonna be televised
We got respect for you rappers and the way they be free-weighin?
But if you?re gon? be teachin? folks things, make sure you know what you?re sayin?
Older folks in our neighborhood got plenty of know-how
Remember if it wasn?t for them, you wouldn?t be out here now
And I ain?t comin? at you with no disrespect
All I?m sayin? is that you damn well got to be correct
Because if you?re gonna be speakin? for a whole generation
And you know enough to try and handle their education
Make sure you know the real deal about past situations
It ain?t just repeatin? what you heard on the local TV stations
?Sometimes they tell lies and put ?em in a truthful disguise
But the truth is that?s why we said it wouldn?t be televised
They don?t know what to say to our young folks, but they know that you do
And if they really knew the truth?why would they tell you?
The first sign is peace, tell all them gun totin? young brothas
That the man is glad to see us out there killin? one another
We raised too much hell when they was shootin? us down
So they started poisoning our minds tryin? to jerk us all around
And they tell us they got to come in and control our situation
They want half of us on dope and the other half in incarceration
If the ones they want dead ain?t killed by what they instigated
They put some dope on a brotha?s body and claim it was drug related
Tell them drug related means there don?t need to be no investigation
Or at least that?s the way they?re gon? play it on the local TV stations
All your 9-millimeter brothas?give them somthin? to think about
Tell them you heard that this is the new word, they got to work that stuff out
But somehow they feel in the wrong way with a gun in their hands
They feel real independent?but they just pullin? contracts for the man
Five and five will tell you it?s hopeless out there on the avenue
But if they really knew the truth?why would they tell you?
And if they look at you like you?re insane
And they start callin? you scarecrow and say you ain?t got no brain
Or start tellin? folks that you suddenly gone lame
Or that white folks had finally co-opted your game
Or worse yet implying that you don?t really know?
That?s the same thing they said about us?a long time ago
Young rappers, one more suggestion before I get out of your way
But I appreciate the respect you give me and what you got to say
-Message To The Rappers
NB: his last gig in Britain was disrupted by anti-Israel fanatics