First Listen: Raheem DeVaughn helps The Archives celebrate Gil Scott-Heron

(May 6, 2020) Gil-Scott Heron is rightfully viewed as a forefather of hip-hop music, and particularly of emcees such as Public Enemy and Kendrick Lamar, who use their music to speak truth to power. From the moment Heron first received mainstream acclaim in the early 1970s until his death in 2011, he was one of this nation’s great musical philosophers and prophets.

So, it is no surprise that new generations of performers have discovered – or more likely rediscovered – Heron and seek new ways to interpret his timeless and timely words. In this case, the Washington, D.C. based reggae group The Archives team with Raheem DeVaughn, another artist with deep roots in the DMV area, on “A Toast to the People,” a song from Heron’s 1975 album From South Africa to South Carolina.

(May 6, 2020) Gil-Scott Heron is rightfully viewed as a forefather of hip-hop music, and particularly of emcees such as Public Enemy and Kendrick Lamar, who use their music to speak truth to power. From the moment Heron first received mainstream acclaim in the early 1970s until his death in 2011, he was one of this nation’s great musical philosophers and prophets.

So, it is no surprise that new generations of performers have discovered – or more likely rediscovered – Heron and seek new ways to interpret his timeless and timely words. In this case, the Washington, D.C. based reggae group The Archives team with Raheem DeVaughn, another artist with deep roots in the DMV area, on “A Toast to the People,” a song from Heron’s 1975 album From South Africa to South Carolina.

“A Toast to the People,” is a tribute to the black men and women who preserve despite the forces arrayed against them. The 1975 version fused soul with jazz and was propelled by the unifying lyrics and the creative and inspired work of pianist Brian Jackson, Heron’s long-time collaborator.

In light of what is going on in America and old and new challenges faced by African Americans in 2020, DeVaughn and The Archives could not have selected a more fitting Heron song to cover, and they flip it by giving the track a reggae arrangement. DeVaughn is best known for his ballad work, but he has a history of issuing musical polemics, so he is comfortable moving in that territory.

“A Toast to the People” is one track on the album Carry Me Home, A Reggae Tribute to Gil Scot-Heron & Brian Jackson and it will drop on May 27. Check out “A Toast to the People” here.

By Howard Dukes

 
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