Gain insight about significant hip-hop figures by checking out their revealing answers to our questionnaire.
Gift of Gab (a.k.a. Timothy Parker) has earned a rep for being one of the most inventive MCs to ever pick up a mic. The California-based artist’s work in Blackalicious and as a member of Quannum Projects has had a deep impact on underground hip-hop, matching style and substance with an infectious, unmistakably positive spirit.
In the midst of promotion for his new solo album, The Next Logical Progression (out this week), Gift of Gab announced that he recently suffered kidney failure but was eligible for a transplant. Within the same message, he revealed plans for a new Blackalicious album, suggesting his health issues have stabilized or, at least, aren’t slowing him down. We caught up with Gift of Gab and got some unique perspective on his life and work.
What was the first hip-hop record you ever bought and where'd you get it?
First record I bought was LL Cool J, "I Need a Beat." VIP Records in Lake View, California. I was 11 or 12. Definitely vinyl; we didn't know about anything else but tapes. But the first records I owned were a Christmas gift from my mom. I was 12. She bought me a stereo for Christmas and gave me Run-DMC and Whodini’s Escape.
Where did the name that you perform under come from, exactly?
I was going by a few other names: Tiny T, Gabby T. Did a song called "Gift of Gab," played it for Orlando Aguillen who was with Delicious Vinyl down in L.A. I guess I was trying to get signed at the time. He started calling me Gift of Gab. I told him it was just the name of a song, but he said “No, no. That's your name!" That's how I got my name.
Which hip-hop artist is your biggest inspiration and why?
There are too many to name one. Run-DMC, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie — so many people are huge influences on me. That's just a select group, but I have way too many to name just one.
Where is your favourite place to eat on this planet Earth and what are we having?
Oh my God, that's a great question. The Real Jerk in Toronto. Ackee & Cod Fish is amazing. My favourite burger is at Port of Call in New Orleans. Not even a big burger dude, but... my God, this is like the illest. You take one bite of the burger and you're on another planet. It's like music is playing and you're getting massaged.
Which hip-hop artist would you most like to collaborate with?
Ah, man. You know, too many to name. KRS-One. Rakim. I want to be on mics with rappers that push me to become better.
Pick up The Next Logical Progression by Gift of Gab now.
NPR First Listen: Gift of Gab, The Next Logical Progression
Allow me to reintroduce myself: MC Suffa of Hilltop Hoods
On record: Endtroducing..... by DJ Shadow
Allow me to reintroduce myself: More or Les