Baram says that Heron, who is definitely unsung, was a hitmaker in the 70’s, with classic songs of the era like “Johannesburg,” “The Bottle” and more. But as the music industry changed, Heron’s hits declined, he was dropped by his label and he fell deeply into addiction. His work may have been forgotten but for hip-hop sampling.
“Kanye, Common, Mos Def, The Game, they’ve all sampled him. He had mixed feelings about that. A lot of the early hip hop of the 80’s was violent, misogynistic and sexist. He didn’t like that. He thought it was crude. But by the time of the Tribe Called Quest, he saw artists who were more poetic. He saw people taking that poetry to the next generation. And he performed with some of those artists like Common,” Baram says.
Baram’s Gil Scott-Heron Pieces of A Man is available here.
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Author of Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Pieces of a Man’ Talks Famous Samples, Legendary Work was originally published on blackamericaweb.com