Gift of Gab, the co-founder of rap duo Blackalicious known for their nursery rhymes “Alphabet Aerobics”, died Friday after battling a host of health issues. He was 50 years old.
The other half of Blackalicious – DJ Xavier “Chief Xcel” Mosley – confirmed his tragic passing in a statement posted on the duo’s official Instagram.
“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my 34-year-old friend and brother, Timothy Jerome Parker aka The Gift of Gab,” Mosley wrote. “He returned to basics peacefully on June 18, 2021.”
Parker died of natural causes, although the rapper had recently suffered from kidney problems, which required him to be on dialysis several times a week.
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Gab first suffered from kidney failure in 2012, and ended up in hospital for a month.
“I thought I had the flu, but realized I couldn’t walk 10 steps without being exhausted,” the rapper told The Post in 2015. “I’ve been through a lot mentally.”
The rhyme master’s condition worsened and he underwent a kidney transplant in January 2020. The following month, Blackalicious performed his last concert, as the COVID-19 pandemic struck shortly after and shortened their tour.
Born in Sacramento, California, in 1971, Parker founded Blackalicious alongside Mosley while the couple were studying at the University of California at Davis.
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After releasing a slew of EPs in the mid-1990s, the duo released the critically acclaimed debut album, “Nia”, in 1999. The follow-up, “AG2” – released that same year – featured the iconic hit from the group “Alphabet Aerobics”, which presented the lyric pyrotechnics of Gab.
In the scintillating single, the word magician notably threaded whole verses in which each word began with the same letter of the alphabet.
Blackalicious gained new viral fame when Harry Potter himself – Daniel Radcliffe – covered one of their iconic television hits in 2015. The 26-year-old actor and hip-hop fan appeared in “The Tonight” Show Starring Jimmy Fallon “” Alphabet Aerobics “like a pro.
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“He killed him,” MC Gift of Gab told the Post at the time. “We are friends with [‘Tonight Show’ bandleader] Questlove, and he tweeted us, telling us to watch the show. [Radcliffe] held in time and everything. He did a great job, I was actually a little surprised! “
“Our brother was an MC’s MC who dedicated his life to his craft. One of the greatest to ever do it,” Mosely continued in his moving tribute. “He is the most prolific person I have ever known. He sought to push the boundaries of his art form in the most authentic way possible.”
Mosley added, “He truly believed in the healing power of music. He saw himself as a vessel used by a higher power whose purpose was to make a positive contribution to humanity through Rhyme.”
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Parker is survived by “two brothers, a sister, many nieces and nephews, countless friends and fans around the world,” according to a statement released by Quannum Projects, a hip-hop collective based in the Bay Area.
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