They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us (Paperback)
Music is church and a vehicle for Hanif Abdurraqib to explore and understand the contemporary moment, particularly how black identity and white identity fit together within the current political landscape. The essays are lent strength in his authoritative and poetic voice. Thoughtful and nuanced cultural criticism with a good built-in mix tape, because you gotta listen to what he's writing about while you read it.— From Sam
December 2017 Indie Next List
“With the depth and versatility of an immensely talented poet and the strong, perceptive wit of a cultural critic, Hanif Abdurraqib shows us his tremendous ability to bend language to his will in this collection of essays. For him, like for many of us, music is an entrance into a larger discussion of our emotions and our collective cultural understanding. Deftly moving from ruminations on Chance the Rapper, Atmosphere, and Future, to Bruce Springsteen, Fall Out Boy, and Johnny Cash, Abdurraqib is able to traverse conversations on black excellence, grief, and hope. This book taught me something fresh about humanity with every turn of the page, and it will stay with me for a long time to come.”
— Matt Keliher, SubText Books, St. Paul, MN
In an age of confusion, fear, and loss, Hanif Abdurraqib's is a voice that matters. Whether he's attending a Bruce Springsteen concert the day after visiting Michael Brown's grave, or discussing public displays of affection at a Carly Rae Jepsen show, he writes with a poignancy and magnetism that resonates profoundly. In the wake of the nightclub attacks in Paris, he recalls how he sought refuge as a teenager in music, at shows, and wonders whether the next generation of young Muslims will not be afforded that opportunity now. While discussing the everyday threat to the lives of black Americans, Abdurraqib recounts the first time he was ordered to the ground by police officers: for attempting to enter his own car. In essays that have been published by the New York Times, MTV, and Pitchfork, among others--along with original, previously unreleased essays--Abdurraqib uses music and culture as a lens through which to view our world, so that we might better understand ourselves, and in so doing proves himself a bellwether for our times.