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I'm New Here (Bonus Track Version)

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Editors’ Notes

The man who once gave us “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and inspired a generation of rappers returns after spending much of the previous decade in and out of prison on drug charges. His gripping baritone handles the spoken-word pieces with his usual authority, but it’s the surprising musical turns that make this a true comeback. Robert Johnson’s “Me and The Devil Blues” is given a facelift with hip-hop beats haunting its steps. The title track features Scott-Heron covering a Smog tune as a ‘60s folksinger with acoustic guitar supporting his community-activist bones. “Your Soul and Mine” adds ominous synths and a solid, mechanical backbeat to his comforting but unflinching wise man’s delivery. “The Crutch” speaks from inside a drug addict’s head. The R&B classic “I’ll Take Care of You” receives an unnerving interpretation where the promise sounds more like a threat.  “Where Did the Night Go” pumps with a palpable fear under its tough talk, while “Running” works as pure menace. “New York Is Killing Me” is surprisingly sparse. While the world has become more uncertain and Scott-Heron’s music reflects this, Scott-Heron is back and ready for a good fight.

Customer Reviews

A Stunning Return

At 60 years old, Gil Scott-Heron has a new album, his first in 16 years - "I'm New Here." It represents a stunning comeback for a musician many thought lost to drugs this past 10 or 15 years. And the story of Scott-Heron's troubles provides a backstory and an underpinning for this album. It was always going to be interpreted biographically, so Scott-Heron's takes that on directly. The first track, "On Coming From a Broken Home," discusses his childhood in a personal voice that we have never heard from Scott-Heron before. It dismisses the sort of simple reading of his childhood as characterised by a "broken home" that "every ologist" might make, implying that he is willing to directly address responsibility for the mess of his recent years.

And that mess is there in his voice - not only in the pain and introspection that it conveys, but also in the gravely and slurred sound of a voice that was once distinct for its crisp articulateness. The slur will sound hauntingly and unhappily familiar to anyone who has dealt with longtime drug and alcohol abusers, particularly people ravaged by crack.

But the voice works well with his new material, especially on his cover of Robert Johnson's "Me and the Devil" - for me the greatest song on the album and one I can't stop playing and thinking about. Over a fairly sparse but intense drum n bass sounding groove, Gil Scott-Heron’s new voice – raspy, weathered, slurred – growls out the lyrics, which are given extra feeling and urgency by knowledge of the devils that have been doggin’ Scott-Heron over the last 10 or 15 years. It’s an amazing song. Hard, harsh and affecting.

The title track is also a cover, while the rest of the material is original, mostly of the spoken word variety that is what Scott-Heron is most well-known from. It's a short album, but long overdue and a powerful and hopeful return.

We've missed this voice.


Born: 01 April 1949 in Chicago, IL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most important progenitors of rap music, Gil Scott-Heron's aggressive, no-nonsense street poetry inspired a legion of intelligent rappers while his engaging songwriting skills placed him square in the R&B charts later in his career, backed by increasingly contemporary production courtesy of Malcolm Cecil and Nile Rodgers (of Chic). Born in Chicago but transplanted to Tennessee for his early years, Scott-Heron spent most of his high-school years in the Bronx, where he learned firsthand...
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