542: the revolution will not be televised | GIL SCOTT-HERON
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was released in 1974 and charted on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums. It peaked at number 21 on October 12 of that year after spending five weeks on the chart. In a contemporary review, Ebony magazine's Phyl Garland called the album "mind-blowing" and said Scott-Heron "does not merely posture and pacify, but presses one to consider the uncomfortable truths of contemporary blackness."
Since then, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised has received positive reviews from publications such as The Washington Post and Los Angeles Daily News, which said "the roots of rap run deep through this superb retrospective". Village Voice critic Robert Christgau said the compilation abandons the homophobia that plagued Scott-Heron's 1970 debut Small Talk at 125th and Lenox in favor of songs that show artistic progress, including agitprop that sounds less arrogant but still committed and improved singing that reveals his compassion. In To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic (2007), William Jelani Cobb said of its significance in hip hop music:
While The Last Poets and This Is Madness pre-dated the beginnings of hip hop, Gil Scott-Heron's 1974 album The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was released as the art form took its first breaths of South Bronx air. Primarily a jazz album, Revolution's claim to the hip hop pantheon was anchored in a title track that found Scott-Heron delivering verse over a hypnotic, funk-indebted bassline—an approach that was so distinct at that point as to warrant classic status.
In the Encyclopedia of Popular Music (2002), writer Colin Larkin praised Scott-Heron's anger and passion in his spoken-word performances on "No Knock" and the title track. AllMusic's Alex Henderson recommended the album's "innovative R&B and spoken poetry" to listeners interested in "exploring his artistry for the first time" Full article