World renowned author, music critic and founder of the Black Rock Coalition, Greg Tate, has released a follow-up anthology to his groundbreaking book of essays and criticism, “Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America,” which was published in 1992.
Twenty-four years later, Tate has shared “Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader,” an intellectually impactful and satisfying collection of writings that range over 30 years of Tate’s professional arts criticism career. “Flyboy 2,” published by Duke University Press, is a profoundly important follow-up collection of writings, which were hand compiled by Tate with true thought and self-reflection.
“[The writings] range from ’85 to 2015,” Tate said of his new book. “I actually ‘genderedized’ [the book]. The first section is called, ‘the Black Male Show’ because when I was going through all these pieces, I realized that I had written a large number of profiles about Black male figures. In particular, when I started to do the final assembly, that’s when I realized I had also had a lot of eulogies. They were bereavements that had a lot to do with, not just my aesthetic identity, but my male and physical identity.”
The book does embody a range of works and topics, but Tate is best known for his music criticism of the most relevant Black music of the times. “I wasn’t writing just about hip-hop. I was writing a lot about jazz at the time. Nobody my age was writing about jazz for Rolling Stone and Vibe. Most of the jazz writers were about 10 to 15 years older than me. I came into music as a serious student of jazz and of music. I was mentored by older [jazz] guys as well. There’s a kind of male initial intro into jazz music, whether you’re a man or a woman, they were the more macho writers.”
Embarking on a fresh journey with Tate’s new book is discovering a timely and much-needed cultural voice in these current times, where young Black readers lack journalistic and literary role models who stand truly on their uniqueness, never regurgitating styles and cadences from the past or sharing vapid and non-genuine writing. Tate’s return will guide the Black arts community through 30 years of history right up to potent, vividly described declarations and observations of current music and current affairs.
“Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader” will be like no other collection of writing you will read this year, and probably this decade. Refer back to the original “Flyboy” book to whet your palate, and to note and compare the evolution of Tate’s voice and his perception of the world and music around him. Take comfort in knowing that there is a Black writer who has no choice but to be real, poised and dignified, denying all pressures to bastardize the class and power of Black arts criticism and literary excellence.