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On May 27th 2011, after a night of debaucheries, I came home in a drunken stupor to find out Gil Scott-Heron died. Gil Scott-Heron sang, spoke, and wrote against injustice. Through his music and writing he spread social and political awareness, inspiring many of today’s artists. He was one of the main people behind creating Martin Luther King Jr Day as a National Holiday in the United States, allowing many to reflect on the struggles and successes of the Civil Rights movement. He is my favorite poet (along with Miguel Piñero) and has been a personal inspiration to me. His poems, songs, and spoken words have been a political, emotional, and creative tonic that I’ve binged on since discovering him.
Unlike the passing of many other artists, this one has affected me on a personal level. In my drunken stupor that night, I wrote a poem in dedication to him as a way to deal with the sadness of his death. I have updated it to reflect the current times. In honor of what would have been his 69th birthday on April 1st 2018, here is a small token of my appreciation to you Mr. Gil Scott-Heron. Rest in peace!
A Tribute to Gil Scott-Heron:
The vulture of death finally took your “warm heart to the cold.”
But we will pay the reparations for your soul, as you pass through Charon’stoll.
Revolution will not be televised was the 1st song I heard.
It told us that our TVs tell us lies! Slogans, and taglines focused on our wallets.
We grow up thinking we got promise. TV characters and celebrities show us a make-believe life.
Shit, damn right the revolution will not be televised.
Media profiteers could not take the chance.
If the truth were exposed, their bank accounts would close.
We are commodities, googly-eyed to the TV screen, distracted, and mentally paralyzed.
You criticized Watergate scandal and Nixon.
You sang against Nuclear war and the people listened.
You spoke against the war in Vietnam!
You told the brothers to stop calling each other Uncle Tom, cause we needed to be united, not divided.
With your music you informed us about race relations.
Used your voice to protest the Apartheid and racism in other nations.
You criticized the actor Reagan and his Reaganomics.
Now we got a reality TV star in the White House with his Trumponomics.
We still have the same issues you were performing about since the 70s.
Different time, but military got deadlier weaponry.
Different time, but to fill plates we got families working overtime.
We got people of color still being shot by cops.
No more mom and pops shops.
Cause we got big corporations putting them into bankruptcy.
Fake news, climate change, and shopping malls selling us vanity.
New York was killing you, with its fast life and its isolation;
like, conservatives, bigots, Trump, and military culture kill me.
Spitting that hatred towards immigrants and people of color.
Got homophobes against homosexuality.
Got some men against women.
The financial class keeps the majority of the people under-classed.
Societal ills continue to persist, who’s going to take the mic now that you don’t exist?
They say you were the ‘Godfather of Rap’ cause you inspired the Hip Hop community.
Hopefully they got your ‘message‘ and take that opportunity.
Cause we need rappers to rap for change instead of perpetuating the current social conditions.
Art needs to challenge the status quo and the politicians.
We have some rappers speaking with misogynistic and corporate words.
They paint their chains gold and think they haven’t been sold.
They need to be the voice to those who can’t verbalize;
To help our society unite, work for justice, and rise!
The vulture of death finally took your “warm heart to the cold.”
But we will pay the reparations for your soul, as you pass through Charon’s toll.
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