Blackalicious MC Gift of Gab died suddenly on June 18, leaving his SoleSides Records family in shambles. While his death was determined to be of natural causes, the veteran Bay Area rapper had received a double kidney transplant in February 2020 after years of dialysis but was seemingly on the mend.
Speaking to HipHopDX at the time, the ambitious artist would often daydream about being on the road again as he tried to navigate the restrictions of COVID-19. After all, the stage was like his second home. Sadly for Gift of Gab and all those who loved him and his music, he never got the chance.
There was, however, one silver lining — Gift Of Gab left behind albums worth of material. On Tuesday (August 17), Gab’s team released the first single from his forthcoming posthumous album Finding Inspiration Somehow.
Titled “Vice Grip,” the Nick Andre-produced track finds Gift of Gab commanding the microphone as he’s done a thousand times before — but this time, the pure voraciousness in his voice proves he was hungrier than ever.
“My brother, the Gift of Gab, is in peak form on ‘Vice Grip’,” longtime friend and collaborator Lateef the Truthspeaker says. “His flow is mathematically fierce, his tone gruff and aggressive. The song is relentless and compelling from start to finish. In short: he’s rapping his face off.”
Lifesavas rapper Jumbo, who often toured with Gift of Gab and Blackalicious, adds, “One of Gab’s many signature styles that he delivers on ‘Vice Grip’ is his fully-charged, uncompromising, perfected precision that we explored on his song ‘Aspire.’ This is classic Gab destroying MCs, taking all challengers.”
As Andre notes, Gab didn’t let dialysis slow him down. He would often write from the clinic as the machines rid his blood of toxins.
‘”Vice Grip’ isn’t the type of beat that I would normally send Gab, but I’m glad I did because he absolutely destroyed it in my opinion,” Andre explains. “I remember him hitting me back on the phone shortly after I shared the beat with him saying that he was about halfway done writing to it and asked if he could come over the following day after dialysis to record it.”
He continues, “I’ve never met anyone that had that same kind of drive and passion for what he did as Gab did.”
Finding Inspiration Somehow was originally scheduled to arrive this summer but was pushed back to September 10 in the wake of his death.
“He was very proud of this album and played it for me in my car before the COVID lockdown was implemented,” Lateef says. “It was great then and it’s great now, which was his greatest Gift.”