Author and essayist Greg Tate, known as the godfather of hip-hop journalism, has died of undisclosed causes. He was 64 years old.
WBGO Nate chinen was the first to report Tate’s death on Twitter Tuesday morning, Good player reports.
“Absolutely delighted to hear (from a trusted source) that Greg Tate has left this dimension. What a hero he has been – a fiercely original critical voice, a deep musician, an encouraging big brother to so many of us,” said Chinen writes, sparking a wave of tributes from artists, fans and colleagues.
A Twitter user wrote in response to the sad news, “This is overwhelming news. Greg is such a unique voice in American letters, as well as an adventurous songwriter, sartorial guru, Renaissance man, and handsome guy in every way What a heartbreaking loss My condolences to his family and close friends.
Another added, “Ohh noooo! It’s a deep sorrow – a loss to American culture, a personal loss for many of us on the New York music and artistic scenes… he was so vital, so committed, in every sense of the word.
A third commented, “He was the only reason I read the Village Voice when I lived in New York City. So sad. Condolences to his family and friends.
Author Hua Hsu tweeted, “Rip greg tate… impossible to imitate, though we’ve all tried… a giant, a good, big-hearted, truest person… wrote this in 2016 and could easily have written 100,000 more words about his influence on us.
Tate was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, and studied film and journalism at Howard University. He joined The voice of the village in 1987 as a writer and gained popularity in 1992 with the release of his collection of essays on black music titled “Flyboy in The Buttermilk”.
In a 2016 interview with New York Amsterdam News, Tate explained why he followed up with “Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader”: “I had a lot of people who told me that the collection [“Flyboy in the Buttermilk”] is a serious contender as a classic. I thought why not take this opportunity to look at the work I had been doing since 1992 and also go back and include some things that I couldn’t get into Flyboy. I was contacted six years ago. I decided to take advantage of the selection process. I’m glad I did.
In the same interview, Tate explained how his handwriting was affected when the crack epidemic hit New York City in 1986.
“I moved to Harlem in 1984. I remember the day the FBI kicked Jamaican cannabis dealers out of Harlem and a few months later the Dominicans arrived and the crack trade took hold in my neighborhood of full force ”, he explained.
“Harlem, in particular, became dominated by a ’30 block drug bazaar,’ where you could get drugs anywhere. Children led people, telling them where to go. You knew the police were involved. It wasn’t even speculation. In fact, they were stealing from drug dealers. They were paid. There was no way they could sell so many drugs on every corner without their knowing it. ”
Tate noted that he had written several “articles on the neighborhood itself”.
“A lot of people were involved in just keeping sanity,” he added.
Tate’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gasoline, ATMOSPHERE and Rolling stone.
One of Tate’s last interviews was with NPR , during which he spoke about the iconic Strata-East Records.
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