They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

Hanif Abdurraqib

nonfiction essays memoir music poetry
emotional reflective medium-paced

291 pages | first published 2017

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.

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reflective 96%
emotional 82%
challenging 42%
sad 42%
inspiring 39%
informative 35%
hopeful 32%
funny 21%
dark 17%
lighthearted 3%


medium 69%
slow 19%
fast 11%

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