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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Blackalicious Emcee Gift of Gab Dead at 50

Known for his "tongue-twisting" and complex rhymes, the Bay Area legend died of natural causes on June 18.

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LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 07: Gift of Gab of Blackalicious performs at the first annual “LA Weekly Detour Music Festival” on October 7, 2006, on the streets of downtown Los Angeles, California
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 07: Gift of Gab of Blackalicious performs at the first annual “LA Weekly Detour Music Festival” on October 7, 2006, on the streets of downtown Los Angeles, California
Photo: Karl Walter (Getty Images)

Timothy Jerome Parker–better known as the aptly-named Gift of Gab, one half of the Bay Area rap duo Blackalicious–has died at the age of 50.

Chief Xcel, Gift of Gab’s Blackalicious partner and DJ, confirmed his June 18 death in an Instagram post on Friday. Rolling Stone reports that Gift of Gab died of natural causes, and had previously battled kidney failure before receiving a new kidney last January. This was around the same time of Blackalicious’ last concert before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Chief Xcel said this on Instagram:

“We often said that each project we recorded … were snap shots of our lives. Gab always strove to do it with as much honesty and integrity as possible. In 2014 when his kidneys failed he began to work with even more fervor. He would do dialysis 4 days a week for eight hours a day and still tour, write, and record. He felt that after 3 decades of working together we were just hitting our stride. I wanted to capture as much of his greatness as possible while he was still here for the world to hear. I know he’ll live forever through his art but I miss my brother. Until we meet again.”

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Blackalicious was formed in Sacramento in the early 1990s after Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel reunited and collaborated after attending high school together. Their first single as Blackalicious, “Swan Lake,” was released in 1994. The duo later released a series of EPs, appeared on the compilation album Spectrum with the hip-hop collective Quannum, and their debut full-length album Nia in 1999.

Gift of Gab was famous for his fast, furious and complex rhyming style. A notable example of his mastery at work is “Alphabet Aerobics,” which appeared on Blackalicious’ 1999 EP A2G. Ultimately, Blackalicious released three more albums together after Nia–the most recent being Imani Vol. 1 in 2015. Gift of Gab also released three albums as a solo artist during his lifetime.

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According to Rolling Stone, there’s over 100 tracks that Gift of Gab recorded for future Blackalicious projects.

“Some of those were already slated for the next release, but more of Gab’s lyrical genius will be heard for years to come,” a rep said in a statement announcing Parker’s death.

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DJ Shadow, who frequently collaborated with Blackalicious, wrote in part on Instagram that “Gab loved to think of life as just a momentary stage of a much longer journey, and all its trials and tribulations as ‘training’ for the adventures to come after.”

“If there’s one thing I know,” he said, “wherever Gab is, he’s SOARING right now.”

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