The message of the song could be summarized easily. As Rap Genuis.com says: “Shah Mot” is a poem and song by Gil Scott-Heron that aims to portray the similarities in the struggles of the Iranians during the Iranian Revolution and of Black Americans against the White man.” This is a good place to start, yet this summary is no replacement for the innovative, abstract, strangeness of its tone of lyrical address. With no need of specialized vocabulary, GSH comes off like a professor at an all-black school (like Federal City College, where he taught at until 1975 before his contract with Arista took up too much of his time), addressing the new generation of college-educated black petty-bourgeois of the 1970s Though the message is as revolutionary as anything from Small Talk, “Shah Mot” is not merely a didactic, preachy topical song. Its lyrics challenge the English-speaking listeners (including himself as listener) to think about who we are, and what our relationship to the then recent overthrow of The Shah of Iran has to our life (and it speaks to today).
You "got to be" in Iran, even if you just stay home (where the hatred is). Just as the segregated cities of Detroit, Philly and Oakland are like Apartheid South Africa, so can they be like those throwing off the yoke of Colonialism and Imperialism like Iran.
Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson had been working relentlessly for over a decade, and after this album (whose final song ends with the phrase, “been out on the road one day too long”) was released, they decided too take a much needed 6 month vacation. Yet, during this time, the music business “suits” had finally succeeded in breaking up this partnership. Pushing him to go out on the road again, appealing to his need for money for his new wife and daughter, GSH found himself on tour with Stevie Wonder. While certainly GSH was happy to share the stage with one of his musical heroes, who was engaging in an important work of activism (and his performance on With Ossie and Ruby on PBS with a new band is an aesthetic triumph), yet there is a telling, and very sad moment, in his memoir The Last Holiday, in which he writes: “I still wanted to believe I was a better lyricist, but there was mounting evidence to the contrary on an album of surgical sensitivity called Hotter Than July.”(275) I think Stevie Would be the first to disagree with this self-assessment.