"Godfather of Rap" Gil Scott-Heron Dies

Celebrity News May. 28, 2011 AT 1:09PM
"Godfather of Rap" Gil Scott-Heron Dies Credit: Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

Gil Scott-Heron, a man often called the "Godfather of Rap," passed away on Friday, CNN confirms.

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The poet and songwriter, 62, was credited with helping to inspire the development of rap music. The Chicago-born artist was known primarily for his spoken word performances in the 1970s and 80s, and for his collaborative soul works with musician Brian Jackson. 

Despite his influence on the rise of rap music, Scott-Heron wasn't impressed by the direction the genre took. 

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"They need to study music," he said off current hip-hop artists in 1990 to Billboard magazine. "I played in several bands before I began my career as a poet. There's a big difference between putting words over some music, and blending those same words into the music. There's not a lot of humor. They use a lot of slang and colloquialisms, and you don't really see inside the person. Instead, you just get a lot of posturing."

Kanye West sampled Scott-Heron and Jackson's "Home is Where the Hatred Is" for his song "My Way Home." Common also sampled "No Knock" on his 2008 hit "Universal Mind Control."

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Scott-Heron battled drug and alcohol abuse most of his life. In a 2008 interview with New York magazine, he revealed that after years of substance addiction, he'd contracted HIV. He was jailed in 2001 and again in 2007 on drug charges.

Scott-Heron is survived by his wife, Brenda Sykes, and their daughter, Gia.

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