News spread Tuesday afternoon of the passing of the inspirational writer, musician, and creator Greg Tate. More than a music critic, Tate set the standard for the art of critiquing and exploring contemporary mediums across genres.
Among the best the Midwest has to offer, Tate was born in Dayton, Ohio, moving to Washington, D.C., in his early teens. Tate once said he was inspired to write after reading “Black Music and Rolling Stone” by Amiri Baraka (né Imamu Jones). In 1992, Tate published “Flyboy In The Buttermilk: Essays On Contemporary America,” exploring race, politics, literature, and music.
Okayplayer called him the “godfather of hip hop journalism,” signaling his importance to the development of a genre of news coverage and commentary.
Howard Professor Greg Carr highlighted the importance of Tate’s work to a generation of writers.
“Greg Tate set standards for writers of his generation who wrestle with contemporary Africana popular culture,” Tweeted Carr. “His ideas, range, technique and command of genealogy should be required reading for those attempting it now. May your soul rise like Re, Brother. We’re still listening.”
A 2018 Pitchfork article notes Tate’s early career with the Village Voice, citing a 1981 assignment covering the Fearless Four. Tate told Pitchfork he felt like a wartime reporter, reflecting on his earlier work.
“It was like writing war dispatches right there on the ground,” Tate told Pitchfork. “There was all this incendiary work coming out. It was unprecedented. It didn’t sound like anything that had come before. There was a lot to talk about.”
He would go on to join the Village Voice staff in 1987.
While known by many for his in-depth coverage and connection to hip hop, Tate was a quintessential culture critic engaging Black art and life in an unapologetic exploration of creativity. Scrolling through Tate’s work at the Village Voice readers will find everything from profiles of Daughter of the Dusk Director Julie Dash to reviews of Terry McMillan’s “A Day Late” and Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled.”
Last year, Tate co-curated the exhibit “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The exhibit featured the work of Basquiat’s contemporaries and sometime collaborators, including Futura, Fab 5 Freddy, A-One, Lady Pink, and Koor Koor.
In addition to his writing, Tate was a founding member of the Black Rock Coalition and played guitar in an affiliated band called Women In Love. He later co-founded Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, an improvisational group committed to composing, recording, and performing music across the experimental soul-jazz hip hop spectrum.
“Rather than limit ourselves to the straight jackets that the commercial recording industry uses to market contemporary Black Music, Burnt Sugar freely moves amongst many styles, eras and genres to devise its own exciting hybrids,” read the band’s site. “These hybrids are based on a solid foundation of various musical traditions and the use of cutting-edge music technology.”
Colonizers' Go-Go Music Complaint Backfires
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"Where’s my go-go music?" Residents say turn up the music after a complaint silenced a D.C. intersection https://t.co/Qkzyl2QHyG— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) April 10, 2019
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#DONTMUTEDC | The Metro PCS near Howard University has been playing go-go music outdoors for years, but was recently stopped after a neighbor in a luxury apartment threatened to sue. Now, people are protesting. Read more: https://t.co/S599x2tZGY pic.twitter.com/uAhyqSQUsh— WTOP (@WTOP) April 10, 2019
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CULTURE CLASH: Protesters are demanding the Shaw Metro PCS be allowed to bring its outdoor Go-Go music back after @TMobile reportedly reacted to a neighbor's threat to sue. More at 10 & 11. @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/dssuTXeX1w— Evan Lambert (@EvanLambertTV) April 9, 2019
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A Metro PCS in D.C. was told to stop playing go-go music outside their store because of noise complaints despite being something they've done since its opening day in 1995.@Wale came out to support the #DontMuteDC movement: https://t.co/IzUzK6xTyXpic.twitter.com/yyEWo1519V— Complex (@Complex) April 10, 2019
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The go-go music will continue, Ron Moten says outside the Metro PCS store. pic.twitter.com/aJrWOU9qZ7— WPGC 95.5 (@WPGC) April 10, 2019
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Very pleased to hear the music will be back: https://t.co/iWMWyUX8bI— Robert Hickey (@housingRobert) April 10, 2019
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Awaiting the start of a Go-Go concert at 14th + U to support a cellphone store nearby that’s been told to turn DOWN the Go-Go music it’s been playing outside for years @WTOP pic.twitter.com/m3ufMRMEil— Michelle Basch (@mbaschWTOP) April 9, 2019
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#DontMuteDC rally ending wit fellowship and even some sage burning in the crowd. And of course Go-Go music playing. Fitting, since we are on a block named after Chuck Brown. The irony of this entire complaint situation. pic.twitter.com/lbW9uGGR4U— DJ Heat (@DJHeatDC) April 8, 2019
‘Godfather Of Hip-Hop Journalism’ and Burnt Sugar Frontman Greg Tate Dies At 64 was originally published on newsone.com