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

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  3,428 ratings  ·  490 reviews
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 a ...more
Paperback, 207 pages
Published February 1st 2019 by University of Texas Press
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Bonnie G. It is, as the title says about A Tribe Called Quest. It is about the history and sociopolitical reality it (and East Coast rap music in general) rose …moreIt is, as the title says about A Tribe Called Quest. It is about the history and sociopolitical reality it (and East Coast rap music in general) rose out of and its impact on society and on the author.(less)

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Jessica Hopper
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book does so many things, and expands the frame of critical biography so crucially. Diving deep in to Tribe's history is only a part of what Hanif Abdurraqib does here -- where the book sings is all the context he adds to the story, about what it meant to love them, the spaces where their work illuminates and anchors his understanding of love, success, innovation, the inevitable, black enterprise. This work, much like his other books of critical essay and poetry invites the reader in. It's ...more
Jak Krumholtz
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When this book arrived Monday I sent a pic of my daughter holding it to my sister that introduced me to Hanif’s writing. I said sometimes fans can’t wait until drop dates. Tuesday I was home sick and played Tribe’s whole discography for comfort. It’s Wednesday now and I just finished it. Shift your plans Friday and go get this.

Abdurraqib released my favorite book of 2018.

He may have just done it in 2019.

Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Abdurraqib is a very gifted writer. With amazing elegance and verve, he weaves the story of the early rap group A Tribe Called Quest with observations on race and culture. The group was an important part of his childhood. There are aspects of memoir as well when he relates how the group’s music impacted him at pivotal points in his youth. I am not a music lover and certainly don’t listen to much rap, but the language and passion of the author kept me rapt. 4.5⭐️
Jacob Hoefer
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
3 books by Hanif and all 3 have made me cry
Lucy Dacus
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If only every writer approached their subjects with the generosity, humility, respect, and honesty that Hanif does.
chantel nouseforaname
I'm not crying. I swear. I'm. Not. Crying... I..I.. just have something in my eye.

Yo, Hanif Abdurraqib is a BRILLIANT writer. He really knows how to put you into his life. He fits you right in there with his schoolyard friends. He fits you right in there with him playing the trumpet in his bedroom as a young boy. He fits you right in there with the tape decks and the cd players. You really get into his head and his exploration of music, but he always leaves a little mystery. You get into his
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
not trying to be all "hanif is the premier music critic of our time" or anything but "hanif is the premier music critic of our time" ...more
This book was everything I wanted from a music history and has really got me thinking about writing about music. I've been feeling dreamy all week thinking about this book, made a playlist for it on Google Play (Abdurraqib said he made a playlist on Spotify of songs sampled by Tribe, so you should definitely check that out), and wish now that Abdurraqib could write all history for me. This was great, too, because I think I may be a hair older than the author, but we're essentially the same age, ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The tiny yet mighty "to" gives the book a great deal of its magic. The "to" is the difference between reading a wonderfully written biography of A Tribe Called Quest and reading this book. This book is an intimate conversation overheard, a love letter found, a confession, a confrontation, a monument, and an ode in addition to being a wonderfully written biography of A Tribe Called Quest. Hanif talks to ATCQ across time and through impassable thresholds in a manner as earnest as it is trenchant.

Darryl Suite
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever read a book that seems like it was tailor-made for you? This is that book for me. I'm in love. This had everything I'm looking for in a book; a gift for my music-obsessed heart and mind. I walked away with a greater appreciation for the rap group A Tribe Called Quest, who I already stanned. But that's not all it provided; this book was filled with hard-hitting and tell-it-like-is social commentary, told with stimulating and delicious prose. The author's previous essay collection 'T ...more
Sarah Booth
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I got this book from an sale because listening to the provided snippet had a lot of fascinating things to say about music. Having not being a rap or hip hop fan at all, I gave it a try and discovered something richly imbued with jazz, story, growing up in the 70s and 80s and message. I've recently started listening to A Tribe Called Quests album "People's instinctive Travels" and have been really enjoying it. Weird for a middle aged white woman, but it you keep your mind open you can ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“We are nothing if not for our histories”

It’s like reading someone’s personal journal. As the writing is so open full of love, hope and fear. While dissecting what the subject means to them. His prose like poetry.

The book is exactly what the title promises. Notes and letters. How each facet has theory or defining moment.

Even if just a casual fan of the group or itms songs and albums. This book spells out illustriously how important they are to the writer, hip-hop, culture and the community in
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There some writers who can make the mundane seem worthwhile, that have a preternatural gift of making the ordinary extraordinary. Elizabeth Strout and Richard Russo – two of my favorite writers – have made their careers off of such talent, developing rich, complex characters that on the surface would appear anything but.

And then there are writers whose talent supersedes their subject matter; I’ll read them regardless of whether or not I have any interest or knowledge of their chosen topic(s). I
Richard Noggle
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it

Hanif's new book is a solid fusion of cultural criticism (as he works his way through Tribe's discography, influence, and dissolution) and personal reflection (as he charts his own relationship to Tribe's music and what it's meant to him over the years, complete with moving letters where he addresses Q-Tip and Phife directly). It's perhaps a little stronger in the latter than the former, and Hanif's digressive tendencies occasionally lose me, but I can't wait for his fourth book.
It turns out this book wasn't for me, which I should have expected when I jumped on the bandwagon. I'm into Hanif Abdurraqib, and I love learning about pop culture history, but I also knew basically nothing about A Tribe Called Quest before reading this book.

That said, if you're at all interested in the history of rap music, you'll get something out of it. Personally, I enjoyed Adurraqib's prose -- his poetic celebrations of hip hop and rap, especially in connection to protest and community-bui
Jen Hirt
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Can a reader get something out of this book even if they don't know much about A Tribe Called Quest? Sure thing -- I'm that reader and I could not put this book down. I had read Abdurraqib's previous nonfiction book (They Can't Kill Us Till They Kill Us) and was struck by his range of style, sharp insights, humor, and just great writing. Same thing applies here, and I learned all about A Tribe Called Quest. Can't complain! This books stands out in the genre of music criticism and cultural critic ...more
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I finished the A Tribe Called Quest book on the bus going to work this morning. I cried a little bit.
I walked past a bar on the way home from work today. A Tribe Called Quest was playing.
I cried a little bit.

For every generation, there are usually only a handful of bands that can truly be described as the proverbial "the only band that matters." And, in the 90s, one of that handful was A Tribe Called Quest. And in his fantastic book GO AHEAD IN THE RAIN, poet Hanif Abdurraqib captures thos
Sentimental Surrealist
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I am a big-time dork for the early ‘90s east coast boom bap sound, especially if it’s heavy on jazz samples, since I’m also a big-time dork for jazz. This, of course, means I’m a big-time dork for A Tribe Called Quest. The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders can go toe-to-toe with Illmatic and Enter the Wu-Tang and Stress: The Extinction Agenda and The Infamous and... shit, you name it. I’ll even stick up for Beats, Rhymes, & Life.

I also love a very specific type of music wri
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best music criticism I have read in a long time. This book is both a basic history of "Golden Age" hip hop from the 1990s and a deeply personal meditation on what it means to be an invested fan over the course of a group’s tenure. There were times when I was moved to tears while reading, and I don't think I have ever responded to music criticism in that way. Considering how vehemently some musicians and fans have turned on music criticism in recent years (to the point of unleashing a twitter ...more
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
On rhythm, brotherhood, and underdogs.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I put this book down. And I’m still not sure if it’s a love letter or an elegy. Perhaps because it flows with chronology it’s both. But even then, the word « chronology » falls short. There’s too much aggregation, by which I mean lineage, inheritance—something we now refer to as « culture. »

I am sure that it has some of the best opening pages I’ve read. And that there’s sweetness and soundtracks and solidarity. There are id
Phil Overeem
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I checked it out of the local library. It is so good I am buying a copy to keep close. Among the many things Abdurraqib pierces the bullseye on, the eerie and perfect arrival of the final ATCQ album is explored with eerie and perfect grace.
Beanslover Jacob
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Knowing A Tribe Called Quest’s music beforehand is not a prerequisite to reading this book. Hanif Abdurraqib is the most beautiful writer, and it’s impossible to not be moved and engaged by this “love letter to a group, a sound, an an era.”
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Back in the days when I was a teenager.
Before I had status and before I had a pager

Some books you don’t know you need until it’s in your hand and you get lost in it. Lost in how it speaks to you of your youth, collaboration and community, friendship and sometimes its dissolution, and sometimes just singing something simply for the pure joy it brings you.
All these things are what A Tribe Called Quest meant to me as a high school student and it is also what it meant Hanif Abdurraqib.
In his
Matthew Komatsu
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
As the cover indicates, this book is many things: epistolary, memoir, poetry, and criticism. But mostly, it’s a rush-to-Spotify-to-listen-to-the-brilliance-of-Can-I-Kick-It admiration of Tribe’s groundbreaking work. Abdurraqib lets his love into the prose, but balances it by allowing Tribe to first earn it. It’s a clever book, but more than anything it was to me a lesson on how to write a wonderful book about something you love. The open structure isn’t without pitfalls — for me, the memoir pass ...more
Jared Levine
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The hype is real! Hanif is bright light in an otherwise placid sky. By now, he has mastered his own brand of writing about culture that, while being spot on, brings you into the emotional center of his being. This is his triumphant preservation of one of the greatest groups hip hop has ever seen. Hanif spins their story while telling the mythic history of hip hop, anchoring it with rock solid cultural references, and his own coming of age. Whether you grew up listening to Tribe as they dropped t ...more
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Anger is a type of geography. The ways out of it expand the more you love a person. The more forgiveness you might be willing to afford each other opens up new and unexpected roads. And so, for some, staying angry at someone you love is a reasonable option. To stay angry at someone you know will forgive your anger is a type of love, or at least it is a type of familiarity that can feel like love.”
Really such a joy to read and to be reminded of the power not just of music, but of a group/band and how a musician/musicians can be so intricately and intimately tied to the lives of those who love the music they create.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read2019
Absolutely fantastic.
Justin Hairston
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The crucial understanding that underlies this book and is largely attributable for its success is this: that a group is not just a group, and an album is not just album, and a song is certainly not just a song. They’re inter-stitched and folded into the layered fabrics of our lives, and we never just hear them as they are- there’s always a filter of experience and emotion and context and other art. All of that renders the act of listening to and humming along with and knowing and loving music in ...more
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Play Book Tag: Go Ahead in the Rain by Hanif Abdurraqib / 5 stars 3 17 Jul 08, 2020 12:33PM  

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Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. ...more

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