LifestyleObituaryStacy M. Brown

Greg Tate, ‘Godfather of Hip-Hop Journalism,’ Dies at 64

Greg Tate, musician, music and culture writer and the renowned “godfather” of hip-hop journalism, has died at 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.”

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 writings, 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,” he 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 said.

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, The 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,” said Hua Hsu, author of “A Floating Chinaman” and “Stay True.”

“A giant, a good and big-hearted person, the realest one,” Hsu added.

Columbia School of Journalism professor and New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb agreed.

“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,” Cobb said.

Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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