Lyrical and Still Hyphy: Meet the Gift of Gab, Oakland’s Compelling Lyricist

The music industry is oversaturated today – perhaps it always has been. However, with the unlimited ways to access artists from Atlanta to India with a single click, music that is not even a few years old is easily forgotten, just as quickly as it was found. There’s an exception though, and he’s, The Gift of Gab.

Story | Sara Loretta

Image | Stash Everything

The Oakland-native is a lyricist most-known for his original group, Blackalicious. Timothy Parker took the stage name, “Gift of Gab” to mirror his style on the microphone; as his flow is swift and articulate. AllMusic has described GOG saying, “his raps are jam-packed with internal rhymes, allusions, metaphors, ten-cent words, and amazing tongue-twisting feats of skill” – qualities younger artists today rarely possess.

– Related: Heartbreak Gang: The Odd Future of the Bay Area, Keeping Hyphy Alive

Back in July, Gift of Gab released some solo work, including a track entitled “The Gentrification Song”. For three minutes, you hear a story about the change of the inner-city Oakland community, to hipsters moving into brand new high-rise condos. “The Gentrification Song” not only speaks truth to the rapid changing nature of most cities (like here in Austin), but Gift of Gab spends the time reminiscing about a previous life, prior to his local barbershop closing down.

First and foremost, The Gift of Gab (TGOG) is a storyteller in his music. While we usually call this type of Hip Hop “conscious rap”, Parker doesn’t fit this category. Instead, his musical style is geared by OG Rap, like Grandmaster Flash or Afrika Bambaataa. Whether he is releasing records solo or as a part of Blackalicious, TGOG takes time to create a compelling message through an expansive vocabulary, by using adjectives that cleanly blend from line to line. His flow responds to the scratching of the record without hesitation, and utilizes the breaks to capture his audience with one breath.

– Related: “The Nostalgia” by Ozer, Reminiscent of 90s Bay Area Hip Hop

Recently, he gathered two emcees from his lane known as R.A. the Rugged Man and A-F-R-O (the 20-year-old rap phenom who’s made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) on “Freedom Form Flowing”.

Old school-esque Hip Hop is harder and harder to find in our generation, particularly because these specific artists aren’t selling themselves out for fame or fortune. Instead, rappers like The Gift of Gab are focused on their passion and continuously perfect their craft. While it’s important that we celebrate innovations within the rap community, we cannot forget the roots in which the multi-million dollar industry started – on the streets in the Bronx, as a way to get out of the hardships endured by so many impoverished families.

Spend time celebrating older artists and actually listen to experienced rappers, like the Gift of Gab. Read more about him on his profile page on Patreon.

Writer & Visual Storyteller | I think mumble rap is like disco, a bad phase.

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