Blackalicious MC Gift Of Gab Has Passed Away At Age 50
The year 2021 continues to be one marred by loss for the Hip-Hop community. Timothy J. Parker, perhaps better known as The Gift Of Gab has died at the age of 50. Gab was a co-founding MC of Blackalicious, the Sacramento, California-based crew alongside producer Chief Xcel. Together, Blackalicious was also part of Solesides and Quannum Projects families. Latyrx member Lateef The Truthspeaker confirmed the news, revealing that Gab passed one week ago (June 18).
“It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear brother, Timothy J. Parker aka The Gift of Gab,” Lateef issued in a statement today (June 25). “Tim peacefully departed this earth to be with our ancestors on Friday, June 18. He is survived by two brothers, one sister, many nieces and nephews, countless friends, and fans across the globe.” The statement added, “We ask that the family’s privacy is respected as we mourn the tremendous loss of our dear brother.”
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For much of the last decade, Gab’s health had been a battle he shared with the public—including some crowd-source funding. After kidney failure in 2014, the MC received a dual kidney transplant in 2020, following years of dialysis. According to Pitchfork, Gab died of natural causes.
Gab’s career extends back nearly 30 years. Blackalicious members met at Sacramento’s John F. Kennedy High School. Gab, whose upbringing included time in Los Angeles, relocated to the north with his family. The Solesides crew formed at the University of California’s Davis campus, where Chief Xcel was studying. During its formative years, the clique included Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, Jeff Chang, Lyrics Born, and Joseph Patel, among others.
By 1994, Blackalicious stepped forth with “Swan Lake” (embedded below) combining mosaic samples and Gab’s accessible but introspective rhymes. The Melodica EP followed, a staple released within the 1990s Underground Hip-Hop movement. Gab continued to collaborate, appearing on breakthrough works by DJ Shadow and Latyrx. By 1999, the duo delivered a second EP, A2G. The Quannum release featured “Alphabet Aerobics” (embedded below) an alliterative display of Gab’s sharp lyricism. With Cut Chemist production on the title track’s remix, the track has garnered widespread acclaim in the 20-plus years since release. Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe famously performed the near-breathless song while on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.
That same 1999, Blackalicious issued their full-length debut, Nia. Having worked with Solesides, Quannum, and the UK’s famed Mo’ Wax label, Gab and Xcel signed to MCA/Universal Records for 2002’s Blazing Arrow. The release reached the Top 50 of the charts, involving Rage Against The Machine’s Zach de la Rocha, Gil Scott-Heron, and others.
By the mid-2000s, Blackalicious returned to the independent channels, releasing several more albums and veering away from their sample-based roots for a time. In 2015, they shared Imani, Vol. 1 with fans for free. Gab also launched a solo career, releasing several albums, beginning with 2004’s 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up. He remained active in Quannum’s album as well as forming The Mighty Underdogs with Lateef and Headnodic. That group issued its lone album on El-P’s Definitive Jux label. As a guest, Gab appeared on albums by G. Love, Zion I, Grouch & Eligh, and N.A.S.A., to name a few.
According to HipHopDX, Gab amassed a vault of approximately 100 Blackalicious songs.
Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to Chief Xcel, the Solesides and Quannum crews, as well as the family, friends, and fans of The Gift Of Gab.
#BonusBeat: Blackalicious’ “Swan Lake”: