Blackalicious MC Gift of Gab to Receive Kidney Transplant—With Fans' Help

Blackalicious' Gift of Gab (L) and Chief Xcel (R). (Nicole Mago)

Amid Blackalicious' busy recording and tour schedule, the duo's MC, Gift of Gab, has been dealing with some serious health issues. After managing his diabetes for years, he was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2012, and made Blackalicious' last album, Imani Vol. 1, and his 2018 solo project Rejoice! Rappers Are Rapping Again! while on dialysis.

"This whole thing man, life is all about turning negatives into positives," Gift of Gab told KQED in 2015. "We're all gonna be handed obstacles. It's just what you do with them."

Yesterday, Gift of Gab announced that he'll undergo a kidney transplant in March at Arizona's Mayo Clinic, and asked fans to donate to his GoFundMe. The fundraiser exceeded its $8,000 goal in less than 24 hours, with 285 donors. In an interview with HipHopDX, he opened up about the costs associated with the surgery: he'll have to pay out of pocket for a hotel and caregiver, in addition to being out of work for six weeks.

"l'll get the call any day to get a kidney and I am overwhelmingly grateful for all of the support thus far," he told HipHopDX.

Gift of Gab and producer Chief Xcel founded Blackalicious in the early '90s after meeting in high school in Sacramento. During Chief Xcel's college years at UC Davis, the duo was part of a dynamic scene that included fellow Northern California hip-hop icons DJ Shadow and Lyrics Born. In 2000, Blackalicious made waves with their debut album Nia, which showcased Gift of Gab's singular gift for tongue-twisting, multi-syllabic rhymes. The duo celebrated the album's 20th anniversary last September with a show at Slim's in San Francisco.

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Gift of Gab promised his GoFundMe donors access to an exclusive solo EP, Offering, and hinted at a new Blackalicious album on the way.

"THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE OUTPOURING OF LOVE!" he wrote once the fundraiser reached its goal. "We did it! Even though we hit our goal, any overage will go to extra expenses including transportation, medication costs, housing costs, caregiver costs, food, and a thousand other things. Every dollar makes it a little bit easier for me on the road back to recovery and health."

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