Yesterday (7 December), the news broke that acclaimed journalist Greg Tate had died. He was 64.

Tate was a long-time critic for The Village Voice in New York City, and his essays often explored the emergent influence of hip-hop culture on the arts in America. His first book, Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America, collected 40 of these essays.

Tate was also a founder of the Black Rock Coalition, an organisation launched in 1985 with “the purpose of creating an atmosphere conducive to the maximum development, exposure and acceptance of Black alternative music.” He was a Visiting Professor at Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies and lectured at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Throughout his life and work, Tate believed in connecting the dots between art and the realities which surrounded it. In exploring this, he became a vital critical voice in contextualising Black music within its wider creative histories. His worldview will be sorely missed by artists, critics and fans around the world.

In the wake of his passing, we’re revisiting some of Tate’s finest works. If you haven’t read these, here are six pieces which should serve as an introduction to the man The Source magazine called “the Godfather of hip-hop journalism”.

© Christian San Jose


To Pimp a Butterfly

Rolling Stone

Tate’s review of Kendrick Lamar’s historic 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, for Rolling Stone.

via The Village Voice


Cult-Nats Meet Freaky-Deke

The Village Voice

A 1986 essay on “the coming age of the post-nationalist black aesthetic,” featured in Flyboy in the Buttermilk.


Afropessimism and Its Discontents

The Nation

Tate’s last published piece, from September. “A guide for the perplexed, the puzzled, and the politically confused” reflecting on Afropessimism by Frank B. Wilderson III.

Fantasea Azealia Banks

Azealia Banks, Fantasea (Self-Released Mixtape)


For SPIN, Tate’s review of Azealia Banks’ self-released debut mixtape.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982, Courtesy Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Flyboy in the Buttermilk

The Village Voice

Another piece archived in Flyboy: Tate examines the complicated career and impact of Jean-Michel Basquiat.


Bad Brains: Hardcore of Darkness

The Village Voice

A 1982 piece for The Village Voice on the “baddest hardcore band in the land, living or dead”.


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