Greg Tate, influential critic and one of hip hop’s earliest journalists, has passed away aged 64.
A representative from Tate’s publisher, Duke University Press, told Pitchfork the news yesterday, although a cause of death was not confirmed.
Tate first emerged onto the hip hop scene in 1985 when he founded the non-profit organisation Black Rock Coalition alongside Konda Mason and Vernon Reid. Still running today, the organisation aids Black artists with resources with an aim to amend inequity in the music industry.
The groundbreaking journalist then began working for The Village Voice in 1987 where he became essential to the documentation of the birth of hip hop.
Tate worked on the frontline of the first wave of journalism uncovering the scene - now affectionately known as one of the ‘godfathers of hip hop journalism’.
Through his work, Tate explored Black artistry and its influences, aesthetics, and disparities in culture, as well as exploring white-dominated spaces in the music industry.
In 1992, the writer published his first book Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America, a collection of works from his time at The Village Voice, where he finished working in 2003.
The Ohio-born critic went on to publish a follow-up book in 2016 to his collection, as well as the 2003-published Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience.
Fellow writer Hanif Abdurraqib paid tribute to Tate yesterday, saying: "no language for how thankful I am to have lived in a time where I could learn from Greg Tate. Absolutely devastated by this loss.
Greg Tate was also immensely generous with his time. That was a big way he was a blueprint for me, beyond the work. To be giving with time and energy when you can.— Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) December 7, 2021
“Greg Tate was also immensely generous with his time. That was a big way he was a blueprint for me, beyond the work. To be giving with time and energy when you can.”
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter