Gift of Gab, Blackalicious Rapper, Dies at 50 [Photo + Video]

Gift Of Gab, the co-founder of rap duo Blackalicious known for his tongue-twisting “blazing arrow” rhymes, died Friday after battling a host of health issues. He was 50.

via: Pitchfork

“Tim peacefully departed this earth to be with our ancestors on Friday, June 18, 2021,” his Quannum collective said in a statement. “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.”

Gift of Gab formed Blackalicious with the DJ and producer Chief Xcel in 1992. The duo released its debut EP, Melodica, in 1994 via Solesides, a label and collective that also featured DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born, and others. By the late ’90s, Solesides morphed into Quannum, which made the notable compilation Spectrum in 1999; contributors to Spectrum included Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, El-P, Souls of Mischief, and Jurassic 5.

Shortly after the release of Spectrum, Blackalicious issued their full-length debut Nia. The album helped Blackalicious land a deal with Universal Music’s MCA Records, which released 2002’s Blazing Arrow. The duo returned to the indiesphere for 2005’s The Craft, released via ANTI-, and later shared just one more full-length, 2015’s Imani Vol. 1.

Gift of Gab released three solo studio albums in his lifetime: 2004’s 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up, 2009’s Escape 2 Mars, and 2012’s The Next Logical Progression. He was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2014 and described his journey with the condition in the 2016 documentary Gift of Gab. A press release notes that “Gift of Gab left behind nearly 100 tracks for future Blackalicious releases.”

“Our brother was an MC’s MC who dedicated his life to his craft. One of the greatest to ever do it,” Chief Xcel said in a statement. “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.”

Gift of Gab’s manager Brian Ross added, “He was one of the most positive human beings I have ever known and always looking toward the future. He was endlessly brimming with new ideas, philosophical perspectives, and thoughts about the future. He was always ready to learn, grow and engage in a deep conversation about things he was less familiar with. A simple conversation with him about nearly anything could take you places you would never have expected.”

RIP

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