AT just 21 years old poet Gil Scott-Heron stepped into a studio and recorded his first album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, which included the massively influential The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. This after publishing two novels, The Vulture and The Nigger Factory.
He was, it’s fair to say, a precocious genius; and with Jamaican ancestry. A couple more seminal albums came but his career floundered in the late 1980s ironically when hip hop – of which he is credited as a ‘godfather’ – began to take off.
His flame went out just as bright as it had burnt while drugs and prison time ate up much of his last decade. And then this happened: Richard Russell, owner of the seminal XL Recordings visited him at Riker’s Island Prison in New York.
The resulting comeback album, I’m New Here has been called a lot of things like ‘one of the next decade’s next best records’…aren’t we in January? The record is worn with pain, unsurprisingly, with Scott-Heron sounding more like ODB than a 21-year-old himself; and the production a perfect complement.