Gil Scott-Heron, credited with inspiring rap, dies

WASHINGTON Sat May 28, 2011 2:20am EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Gil Scott-Heron, a poet and songwriter credited with helping inspire the development of rap music, has died at age 62, according to media reports on Saturday.

Scott-Heron died on Friday at a New York hospital, National Public Radio said, citing his book publisher. He fell ill after returning from a trip to Europe, news reports said.

The Chicago-born artist was called the "Godfather of Rap," a term he disliked, for his groundbreaking spoken-word performances set to music, including "The Revolution Will Not be Televised" in the early 1970s.

He recorded more than a dozen albums and was hailed as an important influence by hip-hop performers such as Kanye West. Considered a voice of African-American activism, Scott-Heron was also a musical critic of apartheid and nuclear power.

After serving a prison sentence for drug possession, Scott-Heron released an acclaimed album last year, "I'm New Here."

(Writing by Peter Cooney; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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