Influential poet, musician, author, and activist Gil Scott-Heron died today. No official word on the cause of death has been released. He had openly dealt with drug and alcohol issues for years, and in 2008 he revealed that he had contracted the HIV virus.

Gil's contributions to music in the 70's are often cited as the early inspirations of hip-hop, and samples of his work can be heard in the production of Mos Def, MF DOOM, Grand  Puba, Common, and most recently in Kanye West's "Who Will Survive In America." After years outside of the spotlight, he returned in 2010 with the album I'm New Here. In a strange way, his final album served as an appropriate last contribution.

Rest in peace, Gil Scott-Heron.