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Godfather Of Hip Hop Poses Crack Dilemma

Author: Skrufff
Sunday, July 22, 2001
"Does friendship mean helping someone to live as he wishes, or forcing him to live as he should-" the New York Times asked last week, following Gil Scott Heron's conviction in a Manhattan Court for possessing cocaine. The legendary 60s street poet and hip hop pioneer pleaded guilty after being turned in by an ex girlfriend, who claimed she'd been motivated by fear for his life. "His band mates think he needs to be on stage, whatever it takes," Monique De Latour, who'dated him between 1995 and 2,000, told the Times. "My point is, he may drop dead next week, and then you won't have anyone to be on stage with."

Scott-Heron pleaded guilty to the felony offence of possessing 1.3grams of cocaine and accepted the judge's offer of going into rehab after completing his European tour. However, the pioneering rapper denied having a drug problem in court, and friends, including his tour manager Alistair Abrahams, suggested that his ex girlfriend's concerns were those of a 'woman scorned'. Philadelphia rapper/ poet Ursula Rucker, speaking to Skrufff this week about her own forthcoming album (Supa Sister, on Studio K7) was sympathetic to the issue.

"That's a difficult question because I had a brother who was addicted to drugs and that's a question I used to ask myself frequently," she said. 'Do I continue to help him or think that I'm helping him, or should I just go ahead and let him make his own mistakes and do whatever it is that he's going to do with his life-' Inevitably, he was killed but it was in the midst of the period when I was working on him, telling him, 'You need to stop doing this and to change your life'. But that's me speaking from my experience not his. I had no idea what he was going through inside or what kind of forces drive a person to become addicted. I've personally never been addicted so I can't conceive what that feels like." Ursula's brother died several years ago, in what she described as a "drug related shooting".

Scott-Heron, who wrote the seminal protest song 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" in the 60s, recently dismissed the tales of violence implicit in most US rap, telling Dazed & Confused that most gangsta' rappers are fakes.

"These artists are kids, they haven't learned any lessons so they don't have any messages," he said. "A rap album is 60 minutes of autobiography so you can be all that you want to be. Now if you really were a criminal or you shot somebody, would you put it on a f%ckin' record- I don't think so. You may as well go and give yourself up."
Gil Scott Heron plays live at London's Jazz Cafe on 22nd/ 23rd June.
Ursula Rucker's new solo album Supa Sister, featuring contributions from 4 Hero, Alexkid (F-Communication) King Britt and Jonah Sharpe (Spacetime Continuum) is out shortly on Studio K7 (Gil Scott Heron) (Ursula Rucker) (Germany) (Michael Franti)
Jonty Adderley