Gil Scott-Heron: How to Stand Out


I was listening to some Gil Scott-Heron the other day, and started doing what I always do when I'm listening to any musician I love - looking up interviews with them. You might know Gil for his career as a singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, activist, perhaps for his title as "the Godfather of rap" or maybe a little closer to home, as the guy whose song was used for Nate Jones' part in Real to Reel ("Gun"). Anyhow, I was browsing youtube and stumbled on this interview: [youtube]

I love listening to Gil talk, because even the speech in his regular conversation has a certain rhythm to it. There is a reason aside from personal interest, however, that I'm posting this interview to this particular site, and that's because I think that the point he makes is quite relevant to skateboarding today.

"I can't tell who's singing. That's what really bothers me, is that I don't know who it is. What I like about music and the kind of music that I like is the kind that like, hey, 20 seconds into the tune you know who this artist is because there's something unique about him or her..."

And then...

"It don't have no substance, so you can produce a lot of them very quickly, but they just as quickly lose their flavor. Ya know, just as quickly as something is number 1 this week you never heard of the people next week 'cause there was no substance."

I just think it's funny how no matter what medium you work with or craft you're expertise is in, there are overwhelming similarities and overarching truths that exist simply because of the human condition.

I certainly can't tell you what makes a musician distinguishable from the rest, but I am pretty sure I can tell you what makes a skateboarder stand out. When it comes to skateboarding, all we want is to watch a part that makes us want to go skate. Think about the guys who have been capable of putting out multiple parts like this. Louie, Cardiel, Gonz, Carroll, GT, MJ, etc. etc. you know the guys. So what makes them stand out? Yes of course they are insanely good at skating, but so are all of the "best insta skaters" (I fucking hate even typing that, and I am certainly not going to link some dumb fucking article).

What makes these guys stand out is that we know them. We've watched them grow up, seen the credits sections of the videos, watched them on tour. We've camped with them, partied with them, and been to all of their birthday parties and bar mitzvahs. We know their parents, girlfriends, favorite colors, what pajamas they wear to bed, and that secret spot where they're ticklish.

In a nutshell, maybe the reason why nobody cares about you even though you're insanely good, is because your b-roll consists of you either gripping your board, on your phone, or smoking weed. All things that I am guilty of, but come on, there must be something else that you do to spend your time off the board. I'd rather see a clip of you eating a nice turkey sandwich. I love turkey sandwiches. Get some fresh lettuce on there, a juicy tom, bulky roll, maybe even some avocado. But instead all you do is bore us with your unrelatable skating, and worse yet, your even less relateable supplementary footage.

Anyway, If you're butt-hurt or need consolation, I'll be at the deli.


RIP Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)