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Greg Tate (1957–2021), The Village Voice cultural critic

by Linnea Crowther

Greg Tate was a longtime cultural critic for The Village Voice as well as the founder of the band Burnt Sugar.

Cultural critic

Tate began writing for The Village Voice in 1981, covering Black culture including music, politics, literature, and more. He became a staff writer for the paper in 1987 and remained there until 2005. He was one of the first critics to cover hip-hop in the genre’s early days. Tate also wrote for publications including Rolling Stone, Vibe, and the BBC. He wrote books including “Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America” and “Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience.” Also a musician, Tate founded the improvisational band Burnt Sugar, for which he played guitar. He also co-founded the Black Rock Coalition, a collective of Black musicians who play rock music.

Notable quote

“When reactive rage is the dominant form of our politics, when it takes police or mob violence to galvanize us into reaction, it means that there is an acceptable level of suffering and misery. When quality of life issues are not given the same attention as our antilynching activities, it means we have a low level of life expectations.” —from Tate’s 1991 essay “Black Like Who? Love and the Enemy”

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Tributes to Greg Tate

Full obituary: NPR

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