Gift of Gab: Struggling Through Diabetes, But Showing No Sign of Slowing Down

gab_30_v01_opt.jpg
Maria Abuzman Guzman
Gift of Gab.
​When Gift of Gab recorded his latest solo album The Next Logical Progression, which drops today, he had no idea that his health was on the decline. The rapper born Timothy Parker's Type 1 diabetes has caused issues in the past -- including the need for eye surgery in 2003 -- but for the most part he felt okay. He definitely had no idea that a song he recorded in order to lift his sister's spirits up as she underwent dialysis would turn into an anthem for his own turn at the very same machine.

"Why do bad things happen to good people?" Gab asks on "So So Much," a plea to his sister to see that she has so, so much to live for in this world.

But after being diagnosed with kidney failure just two months ago, Gift of Gab is now receiving dialysis himself.

"'So So Much' was dedicated to my sister and it was crazy because I didn't know my kidneys were failing at this rate," he tells All Shook Down. "When I wrote it, I basically wrote it as a song to her. It's crazy that I'm in the exact same situation right now."

Gab's spirits come across as high and strong, and his pride in his latest musical effort is deserved and evident. The Next Logical Progression marks a new open window in his musical process. Where previous solo efforts were typically composed of Gab just "going in on" beats that producers sent to him, this effort represents a much more balanced translation of the musical ideas that careen through his head. He credits the advance to his collaboration with G Koop, an Oakland-based producer known for his instrumental replays of existing records and beats and ability to bring life to the outlines for basslines, rhythms, and other sonic textures. "I'll be doing a lot more work like this," Gab says.

In the meantime, there is good news on the health front. A good friend has offered to be a kidney donor, and Gab hopes the transplant will happen in the next year. It's a literal testament to the healing power of music.

"If it wasn't for music, I wouldn't know the person who is going to give me one of her kidneys," he notes, though he won't announce her name. His sister is still in need of a donor.

Gab is continuing to do some live shows, both solo and with his Blackalicious partner Chief Xcel, although he plans to avoid a grueling road schedule. He's also staying very active in the studio.

"I can record night and day," he assures, adding that Blackalicious is five to seven songs deep into its next album. He prefers to keep concepts and potential release dates under wraps for now.

"After I finish the Blackalicious album, I'll probably do another album with another artist," Gab says. "It's very important to me to be prolific now."

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