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Book Cover for: Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest, Hanif Abdurraqib

Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest

Hanif Abdurraqib

Reader Score


89% of readers

recommend this book

Critic Reviews


Based on 18 reviews on

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The New York Times Best Seller logo
2019 The New York Times Best Seller
Finalist:Kirkus Prize -Nonfiction (2019)
Finalist:National Book Critics Circle Award -Criticism (2019)

A New York Times Best Seller
2019 National Book Award Longlist, Nonfiction
2019 Kirkus Book Prize Finalist, Nonfiction
A February IndieNext Pick

Named A Most Anticipated Book of 2019 by Buzzfeed, Nylon, The A. V. Club, CBC Books, and The Rumpus, and a Winter's Most Anticipated Book by Vanity Fair and The Week
Starred Reviews: Kirkus and Booklist
"Warm, immediate and intensely personal."--New York Times

How does one pay homage to A Tribe Called Quest? The seminal rap group brought jazz into the genre, resurrecting timeless rhythms to create masterpieces such as The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders. Seventeen years after their last album, they resurrected themselves with an intense, socially conscious record, We Got It from Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service, which arrived when fans needed it most, in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib digs into the group's history and draws from his own experience to reflect on how its distinctive sound resonated among fans like himself. The result is as ambitious and genre-bending as the rap group itself.

Abdurraqib traces the Tribe's creative career, from their early days as part of the Afrocentric rap collective known as the Native Tongues, through their first three classic albums, to their eventual breakup and long hiatus. Their work is placed in the context of the broader rap landscape of the 1990s, one upended by sampling laws that forced a reinvention in production methods, the East Coast-West Coast rivalry that threatened to destroy the genre, and some record labels' shift from focusing on groups to individual MCs. Throughout the narrative Abdurraqib connects the music and cultural history to their street-level impact. Whether he's remembering The Source magazine cover announcing the Tribe's 1998 breakup or writing personal letters to the group after bandmate Phife Dawg's death, Abdurraqib seeks the deeper truths of A Tribe Called Quest; truths that--like the low end, the bass--are not simply heard in the head, but felt in the chest.

Book Details

  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publish Date: Feb 1st, 2019
  • Pages: 216
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 7.40in - 5.50in - 0.80in - 0.65lb
  • EAN: 9781477316481
  • Categories: Genres & Styles - Rap & Hip HopGeneral

About the Author

Abdurraqib, Hanif: - A visiting writer in the MFA program at Butler University, Hanif Abdurraqib is an acclaimed poet and cultural critic whose work has appeared in the New York Times, MTV News, and other outlets. A nominee for the Pushcart Prize, he is the author of the highly praised poetry collection The Crown Ain't Worth Much and the essay collection They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, which was included in the Chicago Tribune's 25 Must-Read Books list for fall 2017 and received recognition from reviewers coast-to-coast, including a starred review in Publishers Weekly. He is currently at work on They Don't Dance No Mo', a history of black performance in the United States.

Critics’ reviews

Praise for this book

Riveting and poetic...Abdurraqib's gift is his ability to flip from a wide angle to a zoom with ease. He is a five-tool writer, slipping out of the timeline to deliver vivid, memoiristic splashes as well as letters he's crafted to directly address the central players, dead and living.-- "Washington Post" (1/26/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Warm, immediate, and intensely personal...This lush and generous book is a call to pay proper respects not just to a sound but to a feeling.-- "New York Times" (1/30/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Abdurraqib's book doesn't attempt an arm's length, scholarly approach to analyzing the group and its music; instead, Abdurraqib speaks from his own experiences, often in the form of questioning or appreciative open letters to members of the band. It's a bold conceit, but if the book loses a bit of reserved objectivity in the process, it gains much more: an emotional grounding for why the group was so important to the author, and, by extension, why their music should matter to readers, too.-- "Foreword Reviews" (11/8/2018 12:00:00 AM)
Even those who know little about the music will learn much of significance here, perhaps learning how to love it in the process.-- "Kirkus, Starred Review" (12/9/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Abdurraqib explores and exposes the power of music, of art, to not just connect with people, but to connect people, to make movements, to inspire change and revolution, on levels both large and small. In powerful, poetic language, Abdurraqib makes clear the legacy of ATCQ, both the one the group called upon for their own creation and the one they left behind.-- "Nylon" (1/2/2019 12:00:00 AM)
The book comes to life when [Abdurraqib] speaks from his own experiences...Although Go Ahead in the Rain is a no-brainer for devoted hip-hop heads (even those who think they've read all there is to know about the group), Abdurraqib's poetic homage to ATCQ (and hip-hop in general) will captivate casual music fans as well.-- "Booklist, Starred Review" (1/8/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Abdurraqib...manages to write about music by making his language a type of music. He pays homage to A Tribe Called Quest in the only way fitting, with flow and charm and emotional rawness.-- "Mancunion" (1/31/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Fans of Abdurraqib's writing will recognize his ability to seamlessly weave together stories about multiple, often disparate topics. Whether he's reminiscing about his failed attempt to master the trumpet as a child, or geeking out over the history of sampling in hip-hop, or dissecting a 2011 Tribe documentary, each story serves the larger purpose: recounting the life of A Tribe Called Quest through a fan's eyes.-- "Columbus Alive" (1/30/2019 12:00:00 AM)
In his personalized approach to the group's musical legacy, Abdurraqib articulates how the group helped to define his personal growth, helping readers appreciate the power that our favorite acts have in helping us create a durable sense of identity.-- "Nylon" (2/1/2019 12:00:00 AM)
[Abdurraqib's] exploration of A Tribe Called Quest uses his love for the group to leverage remarkably sharp insights about the band and himself. Forthright without being solipsistic, the book is a marvel of criticism and self-examination.-- "Pitchfork" (2/5/2019 12:00:00 AM)
It's a dazzling act, watching Abdurraqib weave in and out of Tribe's fabled history, working outside of their historical narrative to more clearly contextualize it.-- "Passion of the Weiss" (2/5/2019 12:00:00 AM)
[T]his book is like an all-night hangout session with a really smart friend. Abdurraqib writes about A Tribe Called Quest as a fan, but also as a thinker with a finely tuned sense of what's at stake in their music. Brilliant.-- "Parnassus Musing" (2/5/2019 12:00:00 AM)
The book pays attention to the larger changes in the culture, but its overall tenor is warm, immediate and intensely personal.-- "New York Times, Editor's Choice" (2/7/2019 12:00:00 AM)
[Aburraqib is] a lovely curator and chronicler of all things A Tribe Called Quest. We are reminded that the soul of the group was always one to be shared, then and now, between Hanif and me, through speakers in art rooms and headphones on bus rides, to anyone willing to hear.-- "The Michigan Daily" (2/12/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Abdurraqib's writing is so generously thoughtful...He makes everything feel relevant, and he doesn't swerve into the more self-congratulatory music writing that dives so far into the weeds without reserving room for the joy and heartache that springs from the music.-- "Paste Magazine" (2/21/2019 12:00:00 AM)
[A] memoir of listening and feeling, a deeply personal book unafraid to pair music criticism with intimate reflections.-- "Longreads" (2/26/2019 12:00:00 AM)
[A] searing, thoughtful coming-of-age story about hip-hop, race, and the beloved Native Tongues jazz rap luminaries fronted by Q-Tip and the late Phife Dog.-- "Philadelphia Inquirer" (2/28/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Abdurraqib offers a level of historical understanding that only a passionate fan could deliver.-- "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" (3/4/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Few writers explore their subjects as lovingly as Hanif Abdurarqib, whose thoughtful, lyrical, insightful new book...should be required reading for everybody.-- "Chicago Reader" (3/5/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Abdurraqib deftly weaves the biographical, autobiographical and his own elegiac letter writing into just over 200 pages that not only chronicle Tribe's beats and rhymes, but their place and meaning both in his own life and the larger cultural sphere. The result is at once a comprehensive career overview and a riveting personal reflection.-- "Exclaim!" (3/11/2019 12:00:00 AM)
By looking at the short, brilliant, stop-and-go existence of the ensemble A Tribe Called Quest, Abdurraqib has written one of the great books about hip-hop, opening up its genesis, its construction, its evolution and one particular group's history with the clarity of the hold Visible V-8 toy.-- "Houston Chronicle" (3/14/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Abdurraqib can tell better stories about music than sometimes the music can tell about itself...He can take one note and extrapolate an entire psychic history, both of his own wolrd and the world of the musician.-- "Full Stop" (4/2/2019 12:00:00 AM)
At this book's heart lurks a brilliantly vivid portrayal of a certain type of obsessive fandom: not the spectacular kind that leads people to camp outside artists' houses, turn up to greet them at airports and harass them on social media, but a more subtle, internalised variety, where an artist's music ceases to be something you merely love and gradually infects you to the point that it becomes a prism through which you view almost writing a book that could make even a naysayer whant to hear [Tribe's] music as a matter of urgency, Abdurraqib has provided a perfect epitaph.-- "The Guardian" (4/10/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Hanif has a way of making you care deeply for the artists he's writing about...Drawing from his own experiences and peppered with personal letters to the members themselves, Hanif creates an immersive experience for readers to forge a connection to and love for hip-hop.-- "The Rumpus" (4/25/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Abdurraqib brings specificity to what being a Tribe fan means by threading the path of the East Coast rap group with his own.-- "Bookforum" (4/30/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Abdurraqib achingly, beautifully illustrates the evolution of Phife's role [in A Tribe Called Quest].-- "Slate" (4/24/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Easily one of the year's best books about music, a smart, thoughtful, deeply felt look at one of the best acts (not just hip-hop, but pop music in general) of all time.-- "austin360" (5/16/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Perhaps the first notable hip-hop seamlessly blend memoir with sociocultural history...[Abdurraqib's] is a moving and wide-spanning vision, each story providing a kaleidoscopic view of one of the greatest acts to ever exist.-- "Athenaeum Review" (5/17/2019 12:00:00 AM)
A stunning work.-- "Kenyon Review" (6/3/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Intimate and expansive...Abdurraqib has a stunning ability to break apart the meaning of music and move it beyond an aesthetic. It is a way of existing, of surviving.-- "The Adroit Journal" (6/12/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Love letters to musicians are best kept private, one person's fandom being another's boredom. But Hanif Abdurraqib's tribute to rap group A Tribe Called Quest is an exception: the poet and critic loops discursively around rap history, racial politics and memoir in the manner of the band's easy-going but incisive songs.-- "Financial Times" (6/21/2019 12:00:00 AM)
In lining up his own story with that of A Tribe Called Quest, Abdurraqib lovingly pays the group the highest tribute possible. Part memoir, part biography, all heart and all great.-- "InsideHook" (6/21/2019 12:00:00 AM)
By trying to explain why he has always loved A Tribe Called Quest, Abdurraqib manages to give us insights not just about himself but about the evolution of hip-hop, its place in the world today, and the very nature of fandom.-- "Rogues Portal" (7/8/2019 12:00:00 AM)
Beyond the glorious trivia to be found in these pages--great fun for all people instinctively traveling--Abdurraqib invites a more general readership. Particularly when he explores why we love the sounds we love.-- "Longreads" (8/15/2019 12:00:00 AM)
[Abdurraqib] lyrically unspools the band's history. Hip-hop fans and non-hip-hop fans alike will find humor, wit, and astounding lyricism in this collection.-- "PEN America" (8/16/2019 12:00:00 AM)
[A] provocative commentary...Abdurraqib uses his fandom of this influential and jazzy 1990s-launched hip-hop group to come to grips with his own life, thoughtfully reflecting on everything from African drums and American slavery to the deaths of Leonard Cohen and Minnesota's own Philando Castile to provide context and perspective.-- "Minneapolis Star-Tribune" (12/16/2019 12:00:00 AM)
An encompassing, engrossing look at one influential group's fomentation and legacy.-- "Bustle" (2/21/2020 12:00:00 AM)