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The news has just come through the Gil Scott Heron has died – details at the moment are fairly sketchy.
A novelist before he was a musician, his recorded work served as an inspiration to revolutionaries, and to later hip hop artists. His most famous work – The Revolution Will Not be Televised – remains as relevant now as it was at the end of the 1960s. Today, like back then, the aesthetic of rebellion is being agressively co-opted and sold back to us. And like then, rebellion has come to associate itself with the language of youthfulness – a language shaped by decades of marketing, and by brutal notions of obsolescence that reflect the logic of our economic system.
So let us honour his memory by caring a little less about whether our fightback is photogenic – and maybe resisting the temptation to post up hollywood style photos of of couples kissing in front of police lines.
Gil Scott Heron’s end was sad. He spent much of the 2000s in out of prison for drug possession – imprisoned, like so many African Americans, on account of the government’s draconian war on drugs.
Thank you and rest in peace.
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