Blackalicious Rapper Gift of Gab Dead at 50

Timothy Jerome Parker, a.k.a. Gift of Gab. Photo: Al Pereira/WireImage

Bay Area rapper Gift of Gab, half of Blackalicious and the performer behind the duo’s iconic tongue- twisting track “Alphabet Aerobics,” has passed away at the age of 50. Born Timothy Jerome Parker, the longtime collaborator of DJ Chief Xcel was reportedly diagnosed with kidney failure in 2014 and received a kidney transplant in January 2020, at the close of Blackalicious’s most recent tour, according to Rolling Stone. “Tim peacefully departed this earth to be with our ancestors on Friday, June 18, 2021,” the Quannum Projects collective, of which Parker was a member, said in a statement on Friday. “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.”

Known for his rapping agility, delivering extravagantly ornate rhymes and complex wordplay with ease, Gift of Gab released four albums with Chief Xcel as Blackalicious — 1999’s Nia, 2002’s Blazing Arrow, 2005’s The Craft, and 2015’s Imani Vol. 1 — in addition to three solo albums, albums with Quannum MCs and the Mighty Underdogs, and dozens of features. According to a representative, Parker had recorded over 100 tracks for upcoming Blackalicious projects. “Some of those were already slated for the next release, but more of Gab’s lyrical genius will be heard for years to come,” they said in a statement.

“Our brother was an MC’s MC who dedicated his life to his craft,” Chief Xcel, the stage name of Xavier Mosley, said in a statement on Friday. “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.”

On Twitter, fellow Bay Area artist DJ Shadow, who met Parker and Mosley while the soon-to-be collaborators were students at UC Davis, recalled the moment he first saw the late rapper freestyle. “I was dumbfounded, and whispered to X, ‘You mean that whole 5-minute verse was off the head?’ I almost couldn’t believe it,” he wrote. “In an industry with so many frauds and followers, Tim Parker was more than just an original; he was unique. And he was, quite simply, the most preternaturally gifted MC I’ve ever worked with.”

Blackalicious Rapper Gift of Gab Dead at 50