Date of Interview: 04/08/2012
Over the past two decades, Greg Tate has garnered a reputation – and eventually dubbed by The Source magazine – as a “Godfather of hip-hop journalism.” Much of his most-popular writings were published during his stint as a staff writer with New York City’s Village Voice between 1987 and 2003. Greg Tate’s publications extended beyond the outlet, however, and include the following titles: Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), Everything But the Burden: What White People Are Taking From Black Culture (New York: Broadway Books, 2003) and Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2003). His forthcoming works: Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader (Duke University Press) and James Brown’s Body and the Revolution of the Mind (Riverhead Press).
A co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition, Greg Tate also serves as the leader of Burnt Sugar, an improvisational band that fuses funk, jazz, rock, and African music through experimental – yet cohesive – performance. Currently, he is serving as a Visiting Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University. In 2010, he was awarded a United States Artists fellowship, an organization whose mission statement is “to invest in America’s finest artists and illuminate the value of artists to society.”
In response to a “special request,” in support of the body of literature composed during his incredible journalism career, Greg Tate managed to squeeze some time out of his busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry – reflecting on his love of hip-hop, the founding of Burnt Sugar, and an “unappreciated” De La Soul emcee.