By Stacy M. Brown
Greg Tate, the renowned godfather of hip-hop journalism, has died.
The music and culture writer, who excelled as a musician, was 64.
“This hurts,” radio host and music journalist Errol Nazareth exclaimed on Twitter. “I worshipped his writing. His book, ‘Flyboy in The Buttermilk,’ hugely impacted how I approached writing about music. And ‘Everything but the Burden: What White People Are Taking from Black Culture’ is essential,” Nazareth wrote.
Public Enemy founder Chuck D retweeted Nazareth’s post.
“Hurts indeed,” Chuck wrote in response. “Greg Tate, a giant just like you, Errol.”
In Tate’s widely popular “Flyboy in The Buttermilk,” he wrote about Ice-T, Miles Davis, Public Enemy, and others. In one of his many prolific pieces, Tate dissected the power of Chuck D.
“Those who dismiss Chuck D as a bull [crap] artist because he’s loud, pro-black, and proud will likely miss out on gifts for blues pathos and black comedy,” wrote in a 1988 piece on Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.”
“When he’s on, his rhymes can stun-gun your heart and militarize your funny bone,” Tate proclaimed.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tate wrote for The Village Voice from 1987 to 2003.
He received global acclaim for his writings on culture and politics, featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Rolling Stone, VIBE, and many other publications.
He interviewed a who’s who of celebrities including Richard Pryor, Erykah Badu, Ice Cube, Jill Scott, and Chuck D.
His pen went beyond politics and music, writing for prominent museums like The Whitney and the Museum of Modern Art.
Of course, Tate also proved himself as a great author.
His books included “What White People Are Taking from Black Culture,” “Flyboy In The Buttermilk,” and “The 100 Best Hip Hop Lyrics.”
An active member of the Black Rock Coalition and the leader of the Burnt Sugar ensemble, Tate leaves an astounding legacy.
“Impossible to mimic, though we all tried,” Hua Hsu, author of “A Floating Chinaman” and “Stay True.”
“A giant, a good and big-hearted person, the realest one,” Hsu continued.
Added Columbia Journalism Professor and New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb: “Hard to explain the impact that ‘Flyboy in the Buttermilk had on a whole generation of young writers and critics who read every page of it like scripture. It’s still a clinic on literary brilliance.”