By this stage of the proceedings, pretty much everyone’s heard Gil Scott-Heron’s anthem, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” By 2010, it almost sounds quaint and lends itself to volumes of tasteless, smarmy commentary (“…but will it be available on Netflix?”), but you have to remember how incendiary it must have sounded upon its release in the early 1970s. Alongside the equally rabble-rousing Last Poets, Scott-Heron laid down the foundation for the conscious hip hop of Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message,” the entire militant oeuvre of Public Enemy and virtually everything beyond in that genre. But to pigeon-hole him as simply the “godfather of hip-hop” (as he’s often called) almost does him a disservice. That song speaks beyond genre parameter. Forget your “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “Kick Out the Jams,” “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is insurgent art that is as real as it gets.
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