Peers, colleagues, fans, and mentees, respond to the death of revered music writer Greg Tate.
Acclaimed music journalist, author, critic, and essayist, Greg Tate, has died of undisclosed causes.
WBGO’s Nate Chinen broke the news of Tate’s passing on Twitter late Tuesday morning, sparking an industry-wide salute to the critic. “Absolutely gutted to learn (from a trusted source) that Greg Tate has left this dimension. What a hero he’s been — a fiercely original critical voice, a deep musician, an encouraging big brother to so many of us,” Chinen wrote.
Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio before relocating to Washington, D.C., Tate was a musician first, learning guitar in his teens and forming several bands throughout his years. As a film and journalism major at Howard University, Tate sharpened his pen, developing a writing voice that was strong, loud, and profound. He joined The Village Voice as a staff writer in 1987 (a post he held for nearly two decades,) but gained broader popularity in 1992 with the release of Flyboy in The Buttermilk, a collection of essays on Black music, Afrofuturism, and the early years of rap’s golden era, simultaneously cementing his status as both “the godfather of hip-hop journalism” and your favorite music critic’s favorite music critic. Tate’s work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Essence, VIBE, and Rolling Stone, where he reviewed Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly in 2015.
Tate has published three other books and remains an authority in jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop, and rock released over the last half-century. He’s appeared in nearly two dozen music and culture documentaries since 1989, including Questlove‘s award-winning directorial debut, Summer of Soul, which was released earlier this year to critical and pedestrian acclaim. Tate recently spoke with NPR about iconic NYC jazz banner, Strata-East, which will likely mark one of his final interviews.
Read through some of the tributes to Greg Tate below.
Absolutely gutted to learn (from a trusted source) that Greg Tate has left this dimension. What a hero he’s been — a fiercely original critical voice, a deep musician, an encouraging big brother to so many of us. Total shock. pic.twitter.com/JMzCnj3Asb
— Nate Chinen (@natechinen) December 7, 2021
rip greg tate… impossible to mimic, though we all tried… a giant, a good and big-hearted person, the realest one… wrote this in 2016 and could have easily written 100,000 more words about his influence on us https://t.co/watdGCpY8m
— hua hsu (@huahsu) December 7, 2021
the first step to it is mimicry and who we are all mimicking is greg tate…the greatest…and the kindest, so generous with his time and that brain
— doreen st. félix (@dstfelix) December 7, 2021
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.
— Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) December 7, 2021
One of the first things I did when I set out to write professionally was read everything I could by Greg Tate. He is the blueprint – the kind of writer, thinker, observer we all hope to be. Rest up and well done to one of the greatest 🖤
— Briana Younger (@TheQueenBRI) December 7, 2021
Greg Tate was a different type of cool. A style brought to you by gaining respect with words with a vibe no university could ever teach. So they hired him to school folks on what it really means to be apart of the culture and some of us are still realizing what he did for us
— moor mother (@moormother) December 7, 2021
Taught us, tolerated us
Celebrated us, reminded us
Disciplined us, guided us,
Encouraged us, launched us,
Always up ahead of us.
— Dan Charnas (@dancharnas) December 7, 2021
Papa Greg Tate has joined the ancestors. The Godfather of hip-hop criticism. An expansive, gentle soul. His only violence was intellectual. (& it was beautiful & most of them folks deserved it!) He taught me/all of us so many things about so many things. Thank you, Greg. pic.twitter.com/5RL1c2Tggg
— Jeff Chang (@zentronix) December 7, 2021
Thulani Davis led me to Greg Tate. With his first submission the word "genius" swam in my head. "The more writing like this I get the happier I'll be," I told him. And I did get more–lots. Problem was, all of it was by Greg. He was so inimitable few even tried to rip him off.
— Robert Christgau (@rxgau) December 7, 2021