Spin this dope remix by Gil Scott-Heron
Let’s get a little obscure in this mother. Up next is a great remix of a Gil Scott-Heron song called “I’ll Take Care of You”, from his recent album, “I’m New Here.” The song, I’m convinced, was used as an inspiration for the crossover pop hit “Take Care”, featuring Rihanna and Drake. I’ve always loved the video for the mainstream “Take Care”, which bears a highly impressionistic visual style and obscure, barely explicable symbology, not to mention a highly physical and sensual overtone. The video I’m sharing now is not this well-known pop hit… it is an audio-only remix of Gil Scott-Heron’s version, chopped and twisted into an upbeat and engaging EDM odyssey lasting 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
Scott-Heron’s voice is scratchy and weather-worn, and inhabits a higher register than the low, sultry growl of Rihanna’s version. He sounds more desperate, more soulful, and frankly, much wiser and older. The track here is only Scott-Heron, up until about 2:10, when Jamie xx takes over, and dominates the mix with electric wizardry that elevates the otherwise simplicity of the original. With a bit of sonic experimentation and mixing, the hand and sensibility of an experienced DJ is evident. And, with respect to the hip-hop founder Scott-Heron, these sonic enhancements bring the track to a completely new level.
The shift at 2:10 is dynamic, organic, and bracing. It is a complete flip of mood and intensity, like the feeling of the switch on a lamp being suddenly hit, with the effect of transporting the listener into a completely different mind-state. Scott-Heron is famous as one of the founders of hip-hop music, and significantly to my mind, the artist responsible for the classic spoken-word performance “The Revolution Will Not be Televised, ” which is also easily searchable on Youtube (and well worth it.) His verses were drivingly intense, and pointedly critical of political and pop cultural tropes of his era, and his passing in 2011 was a significant loss to the worlds of music and socially-conscious art. I was fortunate enough to burn a copy of the last album he recorded in his life, “I’m New Here,” from the KJHK collection. It is an album I return to often to this day.
As an aside, as I’ve been living here in the South, observing the language and peculiar phraseology of this region, I’ve noticed that the phrase ‘take care’ has a whole different meaning than anything I was familiar with before coming here. To ‘take care’ of someone means more than just to provide them with warmth and comfort. It means respecting and honoring the person, whether that is through a favor, a hefty tip, or a good word on their behalf. “Did he take care of you?” bears an overtone of humanity, of respect for one’s individuality, and for a careful and measured helpfulness. It is a beautiful phrase, a parlance I am still wrestling to understand completely. It means more than a simple ‘please’ or ‘thank you.’ It is an expression of honor.
This track is definitely worth a listen, if you don’t mind having a video with audio and no visuals. Give it a spin! The rhymes of Mr. Scott-Heron are worth the time investigate, and bear a historical importance that cannot be denied. And to see songs like these honored and remixed by today’s hip-hop and electronic heroes is an utterly humbling gift to us as listeners. Enjoy, friends!