Gift of Gab, the verbally dexterous Blackalicious rapper born Timothy Jerome Parker, has died. He was 50 years old.
“It is with much sadness and a heavy heart I announce the passing of my friend and brother of 34 years, Timothy Jerome Parker aka The Gift of Gab,” Parker’s Blackalicious bandmate Xavier Mosley, aka DJ and producer Chief Xcel, wrote in an extensive statement he shared on social media. “He returned peacefully to the essence on June 18, 2021.”
“We often said that each project we recorded (3 Lp’s and 2 Ep’s) were snap shots of our lives. Gab always strove to do it with as much honesty and integrity as possible,” Mosley’s remembrance continues. “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.”
A West Coast duo, Parker and Mosley first met in high school in Sacramento, California, and went on to form Blackalicious in 1992, releasing their debut track “Swan Lake” in 1994, and their A2G EP and full-length debut Nia in 1999. Their 2002 album Blazing Arrow, which found the duo making their major-label debut on MCA Records, remains a conscious hip-hop classic—two years later, Gift of Gab made his solo debut with 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up.
Though Gift of Gab would go on to release two more projects (2009’s Escape 2 Mars and The Next Logical Progression in 2012) as a solo artist, Blackalicious’ 2005 album The Craft would be their last until 2015’s Imani, Vol. 1—Paste contributor Zach Schonfeld praised Gift of Gab as “older, wiser and still a mesmerizingly skilled wordsmith” on the record in his review. The MC also released music as a member of Quannum MCs (with Chief Xcel, DJ Shadow, Lateef the Truth Speaker and Lyrics Born) and The Mighty Underdogs (with Lateef the Truth Speaker and Headnodic).
“He is survived by two brothers, one sister, many nieces and nephews, countless friends, and fans across the globe,” the Quannum Projects hip-hop collective said of Parker in a statement. “We ask that the family’s privacy is respected as we mourn the tremendous loss of our dear brother.”
“Gift of Gab left behind nearly 100 tracks for future Blackalicious releases,” a press release notes (per Pitchfork).
Revisit Blackalicious’ 2016 Paste Studio session below, along with a handful of classic tracks, and read Chief Xcel’s heartfelt remembrance in full here.