"I could talk forever about Hanif Abdurraqib's precise poetic language, his keen observations, and his radical compassion. I could tell you that he transformed my relationship with music by illuminating the threads that join performance to everything else--grief, joy, love, death, justice.
But I think the strongest recommendation I can give is this: Before discovering Abdurraqib's work, I knew and enjoyed a few My Chemical Romance songs but never went out of my way to listen to them. I read 'Death Becomes You: My Chemical Romance and Ten Years of the Black Parade,' one of the essays included in this book, in December of 2020.
According to my Spotify Wrapped, MCR was my top artist of 2021. 'Fake Your Death,' which features heavily in Abdurraqib's piece, was my top song. Who but the best writers can have that kind of effect on your listening statistics?"
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.
*2018 "12 best books to give this holiday season" —TODAY Show
*Best Books of 2018 —Rolling Stone
"A Best Book of 2017" —NPR, Buzzfeed, Paste Magazine, Esquire, Chicago Tribune, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, CBC, Stereogum, National Post, Entropy, Heavy, Book Riot, Chicago Review of Books, The Los Angeles Review, Michigan Daily
*American Booksellers Association (ABA) 'December 2017 Indie Next List Great Reads'
*Midwest Indie Bestseller
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.
"Funny, painful, precise, desperate, and loving throughout. Not a day has sounded the same since I read him." —Greil Marcus, Village Voice