Album Notes - Gil Scott-Heron/Makaya McCraven - We're New Again: A Reimagining By Makaya McCraven

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You may or may not have heard of the late Gil Scott-Heron or his most famous song, yet its ubiquitous title has long permeated popular culture: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” You less likely know Makaya McCraven, the accurately self-described "beat scientist" who fashions samples from his own live recordings. We're New Again: A Reimagining By Makaya McCraven sees the Chicago-based jazz drummer refurbish the Windy City-born poet/pianist/author's final album into a proper send-off to the man who has often been called the first rapper. I'm New Here didn't sound incomplete...until you hear the fruits of McCraven's labor. "A reimagining" is descriptive to a T. He doesn't simply take the original and alter the music. McCraven tastefully splices up Scott-Heron's vocals, most notably creating four separate songs out of the opening and closing tracks on I'm New Here, giving birth to a creation in which the sum becomes greater than its parts.

When describing hip-hop, Scott-Heron once said, "There's a big difference between putting words over some music, and blending those same words with the music." Years later when speaking about what would become his final record, he noted how producer Richard Russell approached him. "This is Richard's CD," he said. "My only knowledge when I got to the studio was how he seemed to have wanted this for a long time." Considering the musical shift on I'm Here Now from Scott-Heron's previous work, it's hard to ignore the negative sentiments he expressed towards hip-hop. That said, it's equally hard not to imagine McCraven making him proud. We're New Here is Scott-Heron's the moment the first words are emitted from his captivating voice. Less than a minute later McCraven takes equal ownership as he dials up the harp before giving way to his drums, hallmarks of his previous work. Independently together, the two musicians are woven into a concoction that sounds as though they were in the studio concurrently, connecting on an aesthetic wavelength. Consider this blended.

For a man whose 1970's output has been sampled in countless hip-hop tracks, Scott-Heron's influence and artistry come full circle by being sampled upon himself. The revolution may not be televised, but it will be transmitted. 
 

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