Rap trailblazer Gil Scott-Heron dies

Gil Scott-Heron, the performance poet and musician who is often described as the godfather of rap, died in a New York hospital on Friday at the age of 62, prompting tributes from across the music industry.

According to the record label XL Recordings, Scott-Heron had become ill after a trip to Europe and died at St Luke's Hospital in Manhattan.

On his most influential recordings in the early 1970s, such as Pieces of a Man, Free Will and Winter in America, on which he collaborated with the jazz musician Brian Jackson, Scott-Heron tackled the social, and particularly racial, ills of society with searing honesty.

It was his blend of rhythmic spoken-word poetry with singing and jazz and soul accompaniments - most famously on The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1970), his protest against the continuing oppression of African-Americans - that was so influential in the hip-hop, rap, acid jazz and neo-soul scenes.

He also published two novels and three volumes of poetry, and his most recent writing, The Last Holiday, remains unpublished.

Scott-Heron lost more than a decade to a battle with his addiction to crack cocaine, with spells in jail for drug offences, and it was during his time in Rikers prison that his return to recording was conceived, resulting in his most recent album, I'm New Here.

His recordings have been sampled by artists from 2Pac to Kanye West, and a new generation of music fans has discovered his work through his recent release with Jamie XX on We're New Here, of which the first release was the poignant NY Is Killing Me.

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