the poet from the ghetto is back testua/text by: angel luis lara   I  ilustarzioa / illustration by: txo!? “Lately there’s been a lot of shit said about me. Someone said I’ve been dead these last sixteen years”. The legendary Blue Note in New York is packed to the rafters. Gil Scott-Heron’s voice is deep with a cadence that carries like a hanging bridge. “Goddamn journalists and critics... Tonight you will witness the miracle of resurrection”. They say that Lazarus walked barefoot, but Scott-Heron has returned with a new record in his hands: I’m New Here (XL, 2010). A sound machine that connects him with the present. Simply magnificent. Gil Scott-Heron is certainly no saint; his body and the look in his eye are a true map to hell. It’s March, 2010, and the crowds gather around the entrance of the Blue Note. The one who never left is back after a decade. “The black Bob Dylan “ or “The godfather of rap”. Just two of the incredible epithets that Gil Scott-Heron has picked up since his first album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox (Flying Dutchman Records) appeared in 1970. Associated with flutist and compositor Brian Jackson, Scott-Heron composed the sound track to what his people were going through in the 70s as he shook up jazz with acid and revolutionized the Afro-American tradition of sounding or signifying by adding funk to the mix. The Black Panthers were about then and Scott-Heron’s verse lashed out left, right and centre. Against the powers that be and against injustice. He also sang out against prejudice and the half-baked ideas and inadequate answers coming from the ranks of his own. “I’m black and proud. I also organize my people, in my neighbourhood I set up food kitchens, clinics, libraries and I’m armed to the teeth”. “Everybody got a pistol, everybody got a 45”, sang Scott- Heron back then. Songs like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, “The bottle” o “Niggas are scared of Revolution” are outlines of a memory sung towards the future: the sharpness and vision of his message and the speed of his word set to music in those years was a determinant influence on the birth of rap. That’s why people like Public Enemy, Common or the businessman Kanye West have sampled his songs. So extended became the idea that he was essentially the father of rap that at the beginning of the 90s he was severely ironic and critical about a rap scene saturated with violence, sexism and odes to money: the song “Message to the Messengers”, included in his album Spirits (TVT Records, 1994), is a ferocious kick in the teeth to the biggest gangsta rappers and an elegant invitation for them to actually use the brains they have in their head. “It’s Winter in America and nobody’s fighting because nobody knows what to save”. The room falls quiet and is enveloped in the sounds of “Winter in America”, one of Scot Heron’s most legendary songs. Maybe the Blue Note is still the same but neither the world nor Scott-Heron is. Everything that lives changes. The paradox here is that a song written in 1974 is still fully relevant in 2010. This is the bitter miracle of the resurrection of Gil: his music was present then and it is now. “It’s been such a long time now, I’m old and half-deaf (…) The new music now is old and the movement doesn’t exist anymore”, says Rowdy-Dow in New Thing (Acuarela, 2008), the essential novel by Wu Ming 1 about free-jazz and the Panthers. That’s why Scott-Heron has returned with I’m New Here. It’s another layer. A heavily charged tirade in spoken word and poetry that melts into hip hop, minimalist rhythms and electronic loops. Recorded in the city of New York, the ideas first came to light in the prison on Riker’s Island four years ago. “They say that people leaving jail are happy, but I’m not. I have returned full of ire.”, spits out Gil Scott-Heron. It’s winter, we’re in America and he’s back. The poet from the Ghetto has resuscitated.