Rapper Gift of Gab, born Timothy Jerome Parker, died on June 18, 2021 of natural causes. The rapper was 50, and passed away peacefully, reports Pitchfork. Hip-hop collective Quannum announced his death on June 25, 2021 in a statement.
“It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear brother, Timothy J. Parker a.k.a. ‘The Gift of Gab’… Tim peacefully departed this earth to be with our ancestors on Friday, June 18, 2021. He is survived by two brothers, one sister, many nieces and nephews, countless friends, and fans across the globe. We ask that the family’s privacy is respected as we mourn the tremendous loss of our dear brother,” read the statement.
Parker is best known for his work with the rap duo Blackalicious, which he started in 1992 with childhood best friend Chief Xcel. Gift of Gab was praised for his lyrics and style of rapping– with complex rhyme schemes, allusions and metaphors, Gift of Gab released three solo studio albums, four with Blackalicious and several other projects over the course of his career. Blackalicious’ third studio album, Nia (1999) was released via Quannum and got them signed to Universal’s MCA Records, where they released Blazing Arrow. Chief Xcel released a statement on Parker’s death, saying “Our brother was an MC’s MC who dedicated his life to his craft. One of the greatest to ever do it… He’s the most prolific person I’ve ever known. He was all about pushing the boundaries of his art form in the most authentic way possible. He truly believed in the healing power of music. He viewed himself as a vessel used by a higher power whose purpose was to give positive contributions to humanity through Rhyme.”
DJ Shadow also posted an homage to the rapper on Facebook.
According to a press release, Gift of Gab left behind nearly 100 unreleased Blackalicious tracks. Some of the tracks are set to be released in 2022.
Parker was born in 1971 in Sacramento, Calif. and spent his childhood in the Bay Area. He attended John F. Kennedy high school in Sacramento, where he met fellow Blackalicious member Chief Xcel. In an interview with Hip-Hop Gods, Parker said he had been writing and rapping since he was a kid, and told a story of battling with other kids in his neighborhood.“…how I wrote my first rap. It was written in self-defense. This kid used to battle everyone in my old neighborhood. He wouldn’t even battle people. He would just destroy them. His ‘victim’ would be left crying. One day he chose me. He just went off on me. I was like 11. So I wrote a rap in self-defense… they called him Star MC. I realized, ‘I’m better than this dude.’ And he said that, too! He said, ‘dude you got better than me.’ My confidence went through the roof. The incident with Star MC was what really made me realize that’s what I wanted to do.”