Sunday Music: Remembering Gift of Gab

The first time I heard him, it was (probably) a Napster lifted version of “Alphabet Aerobics.” Somebody inevitably pitched it to me as, “dude, you’ve gotta hear this. He does the whole alphabet in rhyme and it’s just redonculous.” Yes, that was certainly my gateway introduction to Gift of Gab. Yes, we also said redonculous. The latter is a story for another day.

Gift of Gab was one of those rappers with such an awareness of rhyme scheme and syllable placement that you feel like the old jazz cats must have felt when Charlie Parker first hit the scene. The dexterity and ingenuity were just… mesmerizing. Here’s an example, read it out loud and try not to trip over your own tongue:

Hit you with the funk it’s like, “who cut the provolone?”
Government officials put taps on my mobile phones
Nations overthrown hold my own on my zone
Prone to leave your dome blown poem after poem, homes
Jones for the tones roam with me turn your motor on
Overall this war just got it goin’ on
Overgrown child never growin’ old sowin’ oats pokin’ notes
Till the never nose ho overdose
On my flows those flows goes deep
Hold your nose bros knows foes yo don’t sleep
Slow your roll, show my soul, total hold
Domination don’t ya know
I’m the comet like Muhammad with the verbal rope-a-dope
It’s the paragraph president

Gift of Gab passed away in June of 2021. His work with Blackalicous and then as a solo artist remain as remarkable examples of the art of rhyming as you’ll find. Here are a few favorite tracks:

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