In May of this year, famed “bluesologist” Gil Scott-Heron died. Best known for confronting social and political issues, Heron was a soul and jazz poet, musician, and author. His early ’70s mix of spoken word and rap was influential to the hip-hop genre.
I did not discover Heron’s talents until late in his life. His 2010 XL Records release, I’m New Here, was critically acclaimed. It shows a rougher, grittier approach when compared to Heron’s previous jazz soul sound.
Shortly before his death in 2011, Heron teamed with English producer Jaime XX to release “We’re New Here.” A collaboration between XL Records and Young Turks, Jaime XX reworked Heron’s 2010 effort, combining electronic elements to the original vocals. You will find his song “I’ll Take Care of U” on many of the year’s best of lists. My personal favorite, which also appeared on my best tracks of 2011 list, is “NY is Killing Me” (below).