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Remembering Tim Parker aka The Gift of Gab

Updated: Aug 8, 2021

On Friday June 18, 2021 Timothy Jerome Parker aka The Gift of Gab passed away, aged 50.

We at DJShadowReconstructed would like to pay respect and give our deepest condolences to Tim’s family and friends. For those new to Tim and his work as The Gift of Gab, we offer the following tribute. May he rest in peace.

Gift of Gab's portrait - Photography: B+ (circa 1993)

Going by The Gift of Gab, Tim was one half of Blackalicious with Xavier Mosley (Chief Xcel), and half of The Mighty Underdogs with Lateef Daumont (Lateef The Truth Speaker). Tim released four solo albums, with his most recent The Next Logical Progression released in 2012 on Quannum Projects.

Last year, Tim announced he had been on dialysis for 7 years due to kidney failure but thankfully he was finally receiving a transplant. In celebration, and as a thankyou to his fans, he released new music, the Gift of Gab Offerings EP.

Tim Parker was born October 7th, 1970. He grew up in Pacoima, Los Angeles before his family moved to California in 1985, where he attended the John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento. Two years later Xavier Mosley moved to the same high school and they became friends thanks to their mutual love of hip hop.

When Tim’s DJ, Maestro K, moved away, he called Xavier and asked if he would fill in. Together they formed a group named GTI in 1988, which would go through several name changes before becoming Blackalicous in 1991.

Even at such an early stage in their careers, Tim had a reputation as an amazing MC, as Xavier told Spin in 1999.

“Gab was known around Sacramento as an infamous battle lyricist...Cats would come from high schools all over just to battle him at the end of school every day. There'd be huge crowds and Gab would just be rippin' fools."

In 1990 Tim appeared on an album by Kozmo Flex, possibly his first released rhymes. He appears as a guest at the end of D.J. Mel‐O‐Dee's Presentation, and shows that even then he had an incredible flow and way with words.

After high school Xavier enrolled at UC Davis, and when Tim joined him one year later he met Xavier’s new friends, Tom Shimura (Lyrics Born), Jeff Chang (DJ Zen), Josh Davis (DJ Shadow), Lateef Daumont (Lateef The Truthspeaker), and Joseph Patel (Jazzbo). The group teamed up at UC Davis’ student radio station KDVS, and formed their own independent hip hop record label Solesides.

Tim’s vocals appeared on Solesides first release, DJ Shadow And The Groove Robbers / Asia Born ‎– Entropy / Send Them (1993), on Shadow’s “Count And Estimate. But it was for the label's second release that he really got to shine, as Blackalicious made their debut on 1994’s Melodica EP.

Solesides SS-001 featuring Gift of Gab

The Solesides label came to an end in 1997, and the crew formed Quannum, a new label which announced itself with the compilation album Spectrum (1999).

Blackalicious’ debut album Nia also arrived in 1999, on Mo’ Wax and Quannum Projects. This was followed by three further albums, and the most recent, 2015’s Imani Vol. 1, had been intended as part of a trilogy.

The album was the group's first in 10 years, and was spurred on by Tim’s diagnosis of kidney failure in 2012. During this period Jesse Dana directed a short film about Tim where he discussed going on dialysis for five hours, three days each week. But he still saw a bright side.

“I realized I can get a lot of lyrics written in here, this is the perfect place, because I'm just sitting here...That's the blessing in this, man, cause Imani, the new Blackalicious record, I'd probably say I wrote about 70% of that in dialysis.”

As he waited for his kidney transplant, Tim continued recording and touring with Blackalicious. In 2019 he featured on releases from DJ Shadow and Lateef, and toured in celebration of Nia’s 20th anniversary with a special Quannum MC’s event featuring Blackalicious, Lateef, and Lyrics Born.

After two kidney transplants, in 2020 Tim posted several updates to Blackalicious’ Facebook page, where he discussed his health and new music he was working on. But on Friday June 25 it was announced that Tim Parker had died of natural causes.

The announcement came from Blackalicious’ social media pages, posted by Xavier, and was followed by statements from the original Solesides crew, Tom Shimura, Jeff Chang, Josh Davis, Lateef Daumont, and Joseph Patel.

There was an immediate outpouring of tributes from his friends and fans, and Lateef summed it up when he wrote, “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.”

As many gave their condolences, producer L'Orange shared an unreleased Gift of Gab song he had produced, and a representative told Rolling Stone that Tim had recorded over 100 tracks and that music would be released in the years to come.


— the DJShadowReconstructed Team


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