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Hannah’s Pick of the Week: They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

Staying is not always a choice, and I have lived and lost enough to know that. But the way I think about grief is that it is the great tug-of-war, and sometimes the flag is on the side you don’t want it to be on. And sometimes, the game has exhausted all of its joy, and all that’s left is you on your knees. But, today, even though I am sad, my hands are still on the rope.

Hanif Abdurraqib, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us is Hanif Abdurraqib’s first collection of essays, and it could not have come at a better time; which is why it was named 2017 book of the year by BuzzfeedEsquireNPROprah MagazinePasteCBCThe Los Angeles ReviewPitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others.

Abdurraqib spirits us through his own personal experiences, interspersed with his thoughts on musical artists of all types. He covers the likes of Migos and Johnny Cash, Fleetwood Mac and Kendrick Lamar. Through music and culture, he reflects upon being the only black kid in the moshpit; growing up Muslim in America; being a romantic (and being nostalgic); and Defiance, Ohio (a band that’s actually from Columbus, Ohio, which is Abdurraqib’s hometown).

A poet at heart, Hanif Abdurraqib has the ability to stroll through time and place with his lyrical writing; from Michael Jackson’s grave to a Carly Rae Jepsen concert, Abdurraqib explores the physicality of live music with highest highs with the lowest lows in an age of anxiety, isolation, and, in the end, hope.

Combining musical history with personal anecdotes to create something that’s honest and stirring, Abdurraqib has crafted a collection of essays that would entice readers of Hua Hsu’s Stay True or We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang. Hanif Abdurraqib is also the author of
Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest, as well as
A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance. We’ve compiled a playlist of the artists referenced in They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us below, for your listening pleasure.

Categories: Books and More

Tags: Books and More

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