He had a feel for words as not many have. A voice of his time which continues to inspire generations.
The music of Scott-Heron’s work during the 1970s influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. He has been described by music writers as “the godfather of rap” and “the black Bob Dylan”. On his influence, a music writer later noted that “Scott-Heron’s unique proto-rap style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists”. The Washington Post wrote that “Scott-Heron’s work presaged not only conscious rap and poetry slams, but also acid jazz, particularly during his rewarding collaboration with composer-keyboardist-flutist Brian Jackson in the mid- and late ’70s.” The Observer’s Sean O’Hagan discussed the significance of Scott-Heron’s music with Brian Jackson, stating:
Together throughout the 1970s, Scott-Heron and Jackson made music that reflected the turbulence, uncertainty and increasing pessimism of the times, merging the soul and jazz traditions and drawing on an oral poetry tradition that reached back to the blues and forward to hip-hop. The music sounded by turns angry, defiant and regretful while Scott-Heron’s lyrics possessed a satirical edge that set them apart from the militant soul of contemporaries such as Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. — Sean O’Hagan