Greg Tate, the towering cultural critic and author (as well as musician), was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize on Monday, May 6. 

Tate was given one of the Pulitzer’s “Special Citation” awards, with the organization writing on X, formerly Twitter, “Congratulations to the family, friends, colleagues and fans who bore witness to the inimitable literary/artistic magic of the late Greg Tate.”

A blurb on the Pulitzer Prize website specifically commended Tate’s singular writing, noting the way his “language — cribbed from literature, academia, popular culture and hip-hop — was as influential as the content of his ideas. His aesthetic, innovations and intellectual originality, particularly in his pioneering hip-hip criticism, continue to influence subsequent generations, especially writers and critics of color.”

Tate died of cardiac arrest in 2021 at the age of 64. During the course of his 35-year career, he primarily worked as a critic at The Village Voice, but also contributed to many other publications, including Vibe, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone (check out his author page here). Tate published several books as well, including his monumental 1992 anthology, Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America, and its 2016 follow-up, Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader.


On top of all his writing, Tate was a musician, founding the improvisational outfit Burnt Sugar in 1999. He also helped co-found the Black Rock Coalition, a collective and non-profit dedicated to promoting Black artists and asserting the Black origins of rock and roll. 

In a tribute to Tate following his death, Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield wrote: “Greg Tate was a warrior for the heart. That’s why he was idolized by those who read him, listened to him, learned from him. He always tuned in to those dream states, and followed them as they skipped through history. What a voice. What a mind. And what a loss. Thanks for your life, Greg Tate.”

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