Greg Tate, The Godfather of Hip-Hop Journalism, Has Died

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 TimesThe Washington Post, EssenceVIBE, 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.


Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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