Bay Area rapper Timothy J. Parker—best known as Gift Of Gab—of rap duo Blackalicious has died. Parker was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2014, undergoing dialysis multiple times a week while on tour. The rapper underwent a kidney transplant operation in 2020, and though the operation was successful, he was unable to fully recover. His label, Quanuum, shared the news in a press release. He was 50 years old.
“It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear brother,” Quannum wrote. “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.”
His manager Brian Ross shared a statement, saying, “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.”
Blackalicious’ DJ Xcel also released a statement, that reads, “Our brother was an MCs’ 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.”
Parker began rapping at 12 years old. In an interview with The A.V. Club, he said, “A guy used to come over to my building and cap on me in rhyme form, off the top of his head. So I wrote my first rhyme in self-defense against him. Me and my friend used to ride our bikes over to his house every day and knock on his door with our papers out and just start rapping. He crushed us some days on the porch, of course, but that’s how I developed as a battle rapper. Then I started writing about topics, and that led to writing songs.”
Blackalicious is perhaps most recognized for “Alphabet Aerobics,” a song that that’s had a big moment within pop culture for its fast rhymes. Jimmy Fallon had used it to challenge Daniel Radcliffe on The Tonight Show, and it even got its own sports-themed parody by The Bleacher Report.
Before his death, Parker recorded nearly 100 unreleased tracks. Quannum promises that those tracks will be heard “for years to come.”