Gift of Gab, a rapper who was part of the duo Blackalicious, has died. He was 50 years old.
The rapper, born Timothy Jerome Parker, was an influential Bay Area MC who, with his partner Chief Xcel, released several albums and EPs throughout the ’90s and early 2000s. The duo was known for singles like “Swan Lake” and “Blazing Arrow.”
According to Quannum Projects (via Pitchfork) — a Bay Area hip-hop collective and independent record label that Parker co-founded with Chief Xcel, DJ Shadow and others — Parker died peacefully on Friday, June 18. In 2014, he was diagnosed with kidney failure, which he discussed in the 2016 documentary “Gift of Gab.”
“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,” his collaborator DJ Shadow said in a statement on Instagram. “If there’s one thing I know, wherever Gab is, he’s SOARING right now. We love and miss you, Tim.”
Parker was known for his technical acumen while rapping, using complicated words and tongue-twisting verses, like on the track “Alphabet Aerobics.” He and Chief Xcel formed Blackalicious in 1992 and released their first EP, “Melodica,” two years later. That was followed by the duo’s first full-length album, “Nia,” which earned them a deal with Universal’s MCA Records in 2002.
Prior to releasing Blackalicious’ first full-length, the duo formed Solesides, an independent label that would become Quannum, and released a compilation album called “Spectrum” that featured El-P, Souls of Mischief and Jurassic 5.
Parker also released three solo albums as Gift of Gab. A release announcing his death said he left behind hundreds of unproduced tracks intended for future Blackalicious releases.
Parker is survived by two brothers, a sister and many nieces and nephews. See some other online reactions to his death below: