I am gonna focus on the day at hand now for what it is and what I can relate it to.
Thinking back to Summer 2003, following the Epic Battle of Godzilla and Mothra, and a couple weeks in the hospital, then a couple more in the house, I chanced venturing out to do my normal things... One of them, naturally would be to set about the task of getting my considerably long dreadlocks washed, because damned if I will wash it myself, even without a broken right shoulder, which I was sporting at the time.
Anyway... The homie/then-coworker Tairi was also in the shop (we go to the same lady for this function) and had been there a short while before me. We shot the shit a few minutes, as we often did, what with being on the same team at work (when I was not on leave) and of similar age and general interests and such, compared to the bevy of single black women doing the stereotypical single black woman cackle around us. We no-homeaux needed one another in this situation...
[Phlip note - please miss me with the bullshit, you know what it is and hear it in every movie theater in the United States]
Anyway, a lull in the action and both of us settle into our books in the shop, while a CD is playing in the stereo streaming throughout the shop. I am now only about half-reading and all the way listening to what was being played around me. Sure, the subject matter was on things spread about the 70's. But it was entertaining. Spoken word and poetry, delivered in a manner that gathered the attention of the 24 year-old negro psyche.
Anyway, as sometimes takes place, Tairi was done in the shop before I was and was on his way with his CD, and I was left to feel like an extra in a Tyler Perry movie before that kinda thing even fucking existed.
The next day, I hit him with a text to ask what it was we had been listening to, and he dropped a name on me that I had not heard since having spent major time with my uncle back in the early 90's... Gil Scott-Heron - The Mind of Gil Scott-Heron, and being that I was still to be home from work for about 4-5 more weeks with my jaw wired shut and rehabbing a broken shoulder, I had all the time in the world on the internet to order the CD. Yes, I was still buying physical discs and physical discs only 6 short years ago, before music started sucking.
3-5 business days later, I had the CD, ripped it to the computer and stuck it on the rack, and proceeded to listen to it time and time and time again... When I got back to work and working overtime hardbody, I had liquid cash to blow on music hardbody, and JUST then borders put on a buy-3-get-one sale and I went the fuck in, collecting the majority of the Gil Scott-Heron reissues.
I listened to them non-fucking-stop. Hell, to this day I can throw one on and listen to it in a heartbeat, with only a small amount of provocation. Once such instance of provocation came back last year over on DP's site where he posted an exclusive drop on Sean Price joint Angel Dust, which used a direct sample of the G. S-Heron song of the same name, which immediately drove me to listen to the 23-minute live version of the song, which caused me to stick the MP3 disc in the player in the car, which lead me to type this post a full TWO WEEKS before it would be posted...
"Well what the hell does it have to do with April Fools Day," you ask?
Today is the old man's 62st birthday... He is still recording and touring, having done work with many of the rappers he has influenced, as well as releasing his first new release in a long time, titled I'm New Here (which holds not a candle to his initial work that got me open 30 years after initial releases) but is still at least worth the perusal.
This drop, on the whole, is to thank the man who influenced the quote/unquote "real" hip-hoppers before hip hop as we even know it even existed. Please excuse my use of such a term "'real' hip hop," as the "that ain't hip hop -- that's RAP" argument is one that will see me drawing blood out of someone's neck sooner than later -- but that is an argument for another post, feel free to email me to discuss it if you so choose. At the end, though, it is what it is... Social commentary in a street poetry/spoken word that matters to the audience for which it was designed, yet remains timeless to those who are willing to take a step back into their history to see where they've come from.
No better way to know where you're headed than to know where you're from.
"Oh, what you tryna get smart? You tryna kick some knowledge?!!?"Well, what can I say other than I often do?
Happy Birthday, Gil Scott-Heron, from those who have known your work extensively and from those who will seek it as a result of this...
And many more.