Music criticism is generally not a genre one would expect to find tender and evocative writing – They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us is an exception to that rule.
This book of essays is about contemporary musicians such as Kendrick Lamar, Bruce Springsteen, Carly Rae Jepsen, Fall Out Boy, and My Chemical Romance to name a few. Hanif Abdurraqib weaves his personal experiences of being so in love with music and the cultures surrounding it in all forms as a young, Black man in America.
Abdurraqib has been published widely in publications such as Pitchfork, The New York Times, MTV News, Billboard, and countless others. He is also a poet!
Abdurraqib touches on some really painful and real topics like racism, grief, and mass violence, but he somehow manages to hold these traumas with honesty, clarity, and support from his loved ones and the music he loves so deeply to carry on (unintentional My Chemical Romance reference there). And I think we could all use a little bit of that right now.
I revisited his article about attending a Carly Rae Jepsen show in a cramped venue in New York often. His ability to capture intimacy in all of its forms is astounding and heart healing. Check out an excerpt here!
If you’re in the mood for an eclectic, emotional, funny, and surprising work of non-fiction, I can’t recommend this book enough. Abdurraqib has also just released a book on the history of Black performance in the U.S, called A Little Devil in America, which I cannot wait to see on the holds shelf under my name.
— Jackie M.