Album review: Gil Scott-Heron – ‘I’m New Here’

Staying one step ahead of the pack with one of the old masters

There’s something satisfying about XL, which has been home to UK hip-hop acts [a]Dizzee Rascal[/a] and [a]MIA[/a], signing [a]Gil Scott-Heron[/a], one of the genre’s biggest stylistic influences. It still remains to be seen whether this album of spoken word, folk songs and dark trip-hop interludes marks a return to better times for the poet, whose recent years have been blighted by prison, substance abuse and ill health. What it does do, however, is remind us that he is a copper-bottomed genius. The title track is similar in delivery and intensity to Johnny Cash’s ‘The Man Comes Around’, but this is no deathbed testimonial. The sparse beats are in keeping with the apocalyptic blues contained within, and Gil holds his own next to relative youngsters Gonja Sufi and King Midas Sound.

John Doran

Click here to get your copy of Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘I’m New Here’ from the Rough Trade shop.