Obituary

Blackalicious MC Timothy 'Gift of Gab' Parker Dies at 50

Gift of Gab
Al Pereira/WireImage

Gift of Gab of Blackalicious performs during Celebrate Brooklyn 2013 at the Prospect Park Bandshell on June 20, 2013 in Brooklyn, New York.

Timothy "Gift of Gab" Parker of hip-hop duo Blackalicious has died. He was 50.

The Bay Area rapper was a member of the Quannum collective, who confirmed his death in a statement.

“Tim peacefully departed this earth to be with our ancestors on Friday, June 18, 2021,” the group said in a statement on Friday (June 25)“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," they added.

His longtime collaborator and friend Chief Xcel -- who is the other half of Blackalicious -- shared an emotional post on Gab's Instagram. The pair met as teenagers. During their time in high school together, they would jokingly argue about "who was doper" between Ice-T and Too Short. Chief Xcel says they had dreams of becoming Sacramento's "version of Run-DMC."

He recalls of his late friend Parker, who went by the stage name "Tiny T" in high school, "Out of the blue, Tim who had now changed his rap name to Gabby T, calls me and says ,'Yo X, I need a DJ.' So I’m thinking he’s asking me to DJ for him for a talent show or school dance so I say, 'For when?'  Tim then replies 'Forever' and I say 'Cool.' That day marked the beginning of our journey. 34 years of brotherhood, deep friendship, artistic inspiration, and musical exploration."

Via Twitter on Friday, Gab's contemporaries Lateef the Truthspeaker and DJ Shadow shared their condolences for the late artist. Lateef posted a series of tweets detailing his memories with Gab.

"Gab would become the greatest creative foil of my life," he wrote." If you were going to link up with Gab you better had done some work since last you saw him. If you didn’t have something to contribute to the conversation, he would end up playing you song after song…"

"We supported each other before I even understood what that meant," Lateef continued. "I was invested in helping him shine his light, and, I always felt, Vice versa. Tim Parker, AKA The Gift of Gab was one of the greatest rappers ever. But more than that, he was an incredible person."

"The world was lucky to have him for the time it did," The Truthspeaker concluded.

DJ Shadow shared a heartfelt statement along with a photo of the Gift of Gab on Twitter. He began, "Our brother, Tim, having walked this earth as a student of life for over 50 years has graduated to the next plane of existence. He begins his renewed travels accompanied by the many spiritual attributes developed during his time among us mortals: his wry sense of humor, his unlimited kindness, his abundant humility ... his ability to entertain, to awe ... his adeptness not only at teaching, but at learning."

The DJ later concluded his statement writing, "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. If there's one thing I know, wherever Gab is, he's SOARING right now. We love and miss you, Tim."

Parker reportedly died of natural causes and had previously been battling kidney-related complications. He was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2012 and suffered kidney failure due to Type 1 Diabetes. By 2015, he was on dialysis three times a week. Still, he managed to continue songwriting during his four-hour sessions.

That same year, he opened up to Billboard about his health struggles and revealed that he was still focused on music. “As a unit, we are more creative and focused than we have been in the past,” the MC said at the time. “Even with my kidney disease, nothing is going to stop me.”

At the time, Gab said he was expecting a new kidney in 2016. "I’ve come close [to dying] a couple of times," he revealed. "Until then, we are going to keep making music and putting out records. But, as an artist, I’ve been able to thrive musically going through this. I haven’t let my disease take over. If anything, it made me a better person."

Gab explained that throughout his health battles, "Music is how I get free."

The hitmaker was determined to push through despite his medical condition. "I have no choice but to cope within my faith, at this point in my life," he told Billboard six years ago. "Until the day I don’t breathe, I will create music."

Born  in Sacramento, California, in 1971, the Gift of Gab founded Blackalicious alongside DJ and producer Chief Xcel in 1992. Two years later, they released their debut EP Melodica via Solesides, which later evolved into Quannum. In 1999, Blackalicious released their debut studio album, Nia, which peaked at No. 29 on the Independent Albums chart. The dynamic duo released their last album, Imani Vol. 1, in 2015. (The album was named after the word “faith” in Swahili.) It was funded by a PledgeMusic campaign and self-released on Sept. 18, 2015. The album peaked at No. 28 on the Billboard 200. it also appeared on the Top Rap Albums chart, peaking at No. 21. Imani Vol. 1 was originally set to be the inaugural release of a three-part LP series, though the remaining trilogy albums were not released. Gab and Chief Xcel are also behind fan-favorite, Billboard-charting albums The Craft (2005) and Blazing Arrow (2002). The Craft peaked at No. 5 on the Independent Albums list, where it charted for five weeks. Blazing Arrow peaked at No. 33 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums list and charted for six weeks.