Maybe lightning will strike twice for XL Recordings. The venerable British indie label scored critical and commercial success with M.I.A.'s politically-charged musical eclecticism, so why not take a chance on a new album by one of the original iconoclasts of proto-hip-hop culture, Gil Scott-Heron? That's exactly what the label is doing, inking a deal with Scott-Heron for his first album since 1994.
According to NME, the record will be entitled I'm New Here and XL confirms that it will be ready for release in early 2010.
This decade, Scott-Heron has been better known for personal troubles with drugs and the law than his music, which makes this some welcome, unexpected news. One of the most incisive lyricists of the '70s shows that he still has literary skills in a four-song preview of the new record, which is free to listen to at imnewhere.net.
His voice, on the other hand, sounds significantly different - both his speech and singing voice have suffered and sound deeply weathered, which adds additional gravitas to the lyrics. As for sound, the advance tracks range from stark electronic loops to folksy acoustic guitar; Scott-Heron hasn't lost his taste for diverse musical inspiration.
Content-wise, Scott-Heron recently told the BBC: "There's some kindness, as well as some anger, there's some disappointment, as well as some victories. You want to be 360 degrees. You want to see the point of view of people who stand at all different angles on that."
NME reports that Scott-Heron has been working on the album in New York since his 2007 release from jail on parole for drug-related charges, and that he is working on an as-yet unpublished book, entitled The Last Holiday.