They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

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 whethe...

Details They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

TitleThey Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us
Release DateNov 14th, 2017
PublisherTwo Dollar Radio
GenreWriting, Essays, Nonfiction, Poetry, Music, Race

Reviews They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

  • Pat
    I'd never cried while reading an essay about fall out boy before, so that was new
  • Samantha Irby
  • Jason Diamond
    I've read five stellar essay collections that came out in 2017 and this one might sit at the top of the pile. Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib has this way of laying out whatever it is he wants to discuss, then beautifully diving into it and taking the reader in directions they weren't expecting, but that all end up feeling totally right. Seeing Bruce Springsteen in 2016 turns into a meditation on something much bigger than simply seeing a rockstar; Ric F...
  • Melissa
    "Joy, in these moments, is the sweetest meal that we keep chasing the perfect recipe for, among a world trying to gather all of the ingredients for itself. I need it to rest on my tongue especially when I am angry, especially when I am afraid, especially when nothing makes sense other than the fact that joy has been, and will always be, the thing that first pulls me from underneath the covers when nothing else will. It is the only part of me that...
  • Tobias
    Do you like excellent essays on subjects ranging from punk rock to familial complexities? Well then.
  • Melissa
    A volume of sharp, insightful criticism about the intersections of music and culture, specifically punk, rap, and being a black, Muslim man who has often been the only brown face at a show, but also grief, loss, and hope. Abdurraqib is also a poet and it shows in the way he constructs his sentences: “No one decides when the people we love are actually gone. May we all be buried on our own terms.”
  • Erica
    I connected with pretty much every essay in this collection, especially all the ones about pop punk/emo.I laughed, I cried, I felt the frustration of life all throughout this book. It was excellent; I enjoyed every minute reading it.
  • Samantha
    So, once upon a time, I wanted to write for Rolling Stone when I grew up, and reading this book sort of immersed me back in that dream. One can write about music, politics, or culture, but to write about them all together is to acknowledge that for many of us, there exists a soundtrack to our experiences. And music has that ability to either brush up against our lives, conflict with our feelings, or fully hit us with the exact message or support ...
  • Carl Lavigne
    Heavy, and worth it's weight.
  • Jacob Hoefer
    I haven't been so shaken by a book in a while. I don't exactly know how to put into words all the things Hanif Abdurraqib covers in what is, on the surface, a series of essays on music. so here is a short list of the topics covered in this collection in no particular order:Chance the Rapper & Defiance, Ohio! & escape & class & Kendrick Lamar & heartbreak & The Weekend & funerals & fireworks & Fallout Boy & fashion & Nina Simone & feeling like you...
  • Jenny Shank
    Dallas Morning News, November 1, 2017In his first essay collection, Abdurraqib, a columnist for MTV News and a contributor to Pitchfork and The New York Times, writes about America through the prism of its music. In one essay Abdurraqib, a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, makes a pilgrimage to see the Boss play for his hometown crowd in New Jersey. While enjoying the show, he notices, "the only other black people I saw were performing labor in som...
  • Matthew
    These essays range from the playful to the powerful to the painful. And sometimes all three all at once. A great on and off read. Not all these essays interested me, but “Brief Notes on Staying...” is perfection!
  • Simon Sweetman
    Amazing set of essays, great writing - music, culture, politics are all a blur, as they should be. For fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chuck Klosterman and all points between.
  • Elizabeth Willis
    Thanks very much to Two Dollar Radio for the ARC.Hanif Abdurraqib's essays are observant, intelligent, and far-reaching; he faces the interiority of a breakup through the Weeknd, considers immortality and control of the elements through Prince, and experiences the moment when shame falls to dust through Carly Rae Jepsen. This collection has a distinct political awareness; these essays, even when considering shows and albums of decades past, are w...
  • Vivek
    There are some books, man. Some books that just make you stop every few minutes and stare and close your eyes and let the unpunctuated words echo around a bit in your head and where every few chapters you've gotta steel yourself when you feel the feels. Prose as poetry, and when you're done you'll feel like you know Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib like you know your closest friends. This is one that sticks with you.
  • Joey Barron
    This book was referred to me by a girl named, "Curry" who was working the register at Brookline Booksmith, an independent book store.I borrowed a copy of it using interlibrary loans and am glad I didn't purchase it.This book is aesthetically inviting, but dare I say, "hipster"?!?The book is named after a paper sign above Mike Brown's memorial.Please don't call me a racist honky simply because I didn't "fully engage" or "experience joy" whilst con...
  • Bradley
    This is Hanif’s first collection of essays. Hanif, an African-American from Columbus, Ohio and born to parents who converted to Islam, is an avid music lover and a regular contributor on the topic for the New York Times, Pitchfork, and MTV News. A published and critically-acclaimed poet, Hanif is able to eloquently and thoughtfully able to tie musical themes into the political and social issues facing people of color today. He writes about how ...
  • Ophelia
    No matter how obsessed you've been with your own vanishing, there will always be someone who still wants you whole.I started this book on a bus and I finished it on a bus and I think that's very spiritually, if not thematically, appropriate. I also cried a lot.I'm not a big reader of nonfiction, but I follow Hanif on twitter and he's so incredibly clever and articulate and that cover is so pretty and etc so I bought it and read it to and from wor...
  • Denise St Pierre
    I am a poet first and foremost, and second I am whatever comes after.It's official: Hanif is my new favorite writer, and his work should be elevated to the level of the Coates' and Gays of the world. This collection is part poetry, part music journalism, part narrative of black lives, all excellence. His words will make your heart swell, your pulse pound. He is able to capture such evocative feelings, making them feel both entirely new and comple...
  • Michael
    One of the best collections of music criticism I have read in my lifetime. Whether it's writing about the poetics of punk rock or the systemic racism inherent in our nightmare society, Abdurraqib has the vision and words. Any aspiring cultural critic should be reading this book. And kudos to Two Dollar Radio for publishing such a wonderful writer. We need more books like this one.Favorite Essays:"A Night In Bruce Springsteen's America" "Death Bec...
  • Will
    Hanif Abdurraqib is an astute observer of popular culture who writes about music and his life with concise and powerful prose. Abdurraqib is most powerful when ending an essay--his conclusions can pack such a wallop that I had to put it down several different times and really ruminate on what he had written. There is so much love running throughout this entire collection from the author writing about seeing Carly Rae Jepsen, to making eye contact...
  • Jason
    Honestly, I’m too white for this. The cultural connections were interesting but, like most black authors who have turned to the personal essay, the touch points are so myopically solipsistic that there is no potential for connection with any but the most similarly shortsighted readers. To be fair, white authors have been doing this for time immemorial but it doesn’t change how disappointing it is to see a talented author believe that his only...
  • Vani
    I have never read any music criticism before, but I can't quite call this book of essays as just being music criticism. Nearly every essay weaves analysis of music into it, but this book is about so much more. Race relations, grief and loss, growing up. I have an ARC so there is no publication date on the book yet, but the essays are steeped in the hurt that was the flaming pile of shit of 2016, and (un)fortunately, that same shit carries over an...
  • Jon
    This is a fantastic series of essays compiled by the wonderful Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib. I'd discovered him thanks to my brother-in-law, but I grew to love his work with MTV News and his poetry. He's got a very unique take and tastes, and he absolutely sells you on them even when you have serious doubts. I mean, I can't think of better champion of what some may consider second tier, third wave emo bands. He writes on a wide variety of topics beyon...
  • Rose Peterson
    Hanif Abdurraqib opens this book with an essay on Chance the Rapper in which he asserts that "a blessing is a brief breath to take in that doesn't taste of whatever is holding you under," and the next 290 pages prove to be just that for the reader: a blessing. At a time when writing about most writing about racial justice can seem to be homogenous and, hence, forgettable, Abdurraqib weaves music of all genres together with social commentary in hi...
  • Kenyatta Garcia
    I don't want to compare Abdurraqib to the great music writers of past generations nor to the canon of black thinkers as this book proves to be something new and different from what preceded it. These essays take you to church, get you up in your feels, and have you in want of yet reluctant of a grandma's advice. This is the book we need whether we know the musicians in the essays or not. Take your time with it. Savor every page.
  • Scott Wilson
    I don't remember where online I read mention of this book, but I grabbed it from the library and loved the first essay I read in it. I'm still digesting it, but I'll say two things. First, I have to take it back to the library because someone else wants it now, which makes me happy. Someone else is about to discover this book. Second, I skipped a few essays so I'd have something new to read when I buy it. Great stuff.
  • Nicole
    Wow wow wow wow wow. These essays. Great music writing that turns into thoughtful, insightful writing about grief, joy, race, connections, basically the whole human experience. Abdurraqib writes with such poignancy and elegance that his words seep into your everyday life and thoughts. I can’t stop recommending this book to all my friends because it’s just plain great.
  • Ryan
    A book allegedly about music, Abdurraqib crafts his essays around his biography and digestion of popular culture as well as politics of the state and of the heart. He understands that the power of music is felt, not merely analyzed. These pieces form a brilliant tapestry of brilliant mind and outsized heart.