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Go Ahead in the Rain

Go Ahead in the Rain
Notes to A Tribe Called Quest

The first chronicle of A Tribe Called Quest—the visionary, award-winning group whose jazz-infused records and socially conscious lyrics revolutionized rap in the early 1990s.

A New York Times Best Seller

Series: American Music Series

Sales restrictions: Not for sale in the Commonwealth (except Canada) and the European Union
February 2019
Active (available)
$16.95
216 pages | 5.5 x 7.5 |
ISBN: 
978-1-4773-1648-1
Description: 

A New York Times Best Seller

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.

Awards: 

2019 National Book Award Longlist, Nonfiction

2019 Kirkus Book Prize Finalist, Nonfiction

Contents: 
  • 1. The Paths of Rhythm
  • 2. Once Upon a Time in Queens
  • 3. Push It Along
  • 4. The Low End
  • 5. Award Tour
  • 6. 1nce Again
  • 7. The Source Cover
  • 8. Lament
  • 9. Documentary
  • 10. Family Business
  • 11. Common Ground
  • 12. Thank You 4 Your Service
  • Acknowledgments
Author: 

Hanif Abdurraqib
Columbus, Ohio

A New York Times best-selling author and visiting writer in the MFA program at Butler University, 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.

Reviews: 

“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

“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

“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

“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

Go Ahead in the Rain is more than just an homage to A Tribe Called Quest…it's more like a reckoning. The result is a critical examination of the group—their message and history—as well as a musical memoir of sorts, and an exploration of the lasting impact music can have on the soul.”
Vanity Fair

“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

Go Ahead in the Rain is an accurate, honest documentation of the band, their music, and the time…Brilliantly entertaining, informative, and self-reflective. This is essential reading.”
February Indie Next List

“[Abdurraqib] allows us into his own history alongside the groundbreaking group, blending personal, musical, and cultural insights into something that truly resonates. ”
Buzzfeed News

“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

Go Ahead in the Rain is a literary hybrid: part academic monograph on the group and its music, part pocket history of hip-hop, part memoir, and part epistolary elegy. It is a book that conveys the wonder of being a fan and the visceral impact of experiencing the feeling of having oneself reflected back in music and pop culture.”
Publishers Weekly

“If you're a hip-hop fan, you need to get it…a brilliant piece of music writing.”
Nikesh Shukla, Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4

“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

“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

“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

“[T]his is a writerly talent worthy of our awe. One could argue writers are at their best when they use their insight to make sense of the world they observe. In a book about A Tribe Called Quest specifically—a group that attracted fans across race, gender, and generation gaps—Abdurraqib’s penchant for holding and showing so much simultaneously is a perfect fit.”
Barrelhouse

“[Abdurraqib] has a seemingly limitless capacity to share what moves him, which means that to read Go Ahead in the Rain, you don't need to be a Tribe Called Quest fan: Abdurraqib will make you one. His love for the group is infectious, even when it breaks his heart...[Abdurraqib writes] about music so beautifully and intelligently that readers are moved to love it, or reminded to love it more.”
NPR

“[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

“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

Go Ahead in the Rain is both the promised love letter of its cover image and a remarkably helpful guide to Tribe neophytes. Those who know nothing will know slightly more, and will find a place to start. Those who grew up listening to these records...are likely to find joy and connection in Abdurraqib’s memories.”
Rock & Roll Globe

“[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

“Abdurraqib mizes observations about the group with passages of personal retrospective and a rich description of Tribe's musical context.”
The Current

“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

“[Abdurraqib] weaves an astoundingly compelling narrative…[Go Ahead in the Rain] is, without a doubt, an artistic statement of beauty.”
Anhedonic Headphones

“The vantage from which [Abdurraqib] dissects Tribe's legacy is rooted in the heritage of black music and delivered from the present cultural moment, making Go Ahead in the Rain, much like Tribe's music, capable of remaining relevant for decades to come.”
PopMatters

“Abdurraqib…makes an implicit argument for a criticism that works toward connection. At the heart of Go Ahead in the Rain are questions about ourselves; it asks how and why we love artists, and what we can do with that love.”
The Nation

Go Ahead in the Rain is a fan's narrative on A Tribe Called Quest that gives readers the language to imagine a better world.”
Electric Literature

“[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

Go Ahead in the Rain is not just for fans of A Tribe Called Quest, but for anyone who has ever felt deeply understood by a band, or found comfort in the solitude of putting on a pair of headphones.”
Washington City Paper

“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

“[Go Ahead in the Rain is] illuminating for fans of the group, but even hip-hop novices will be moved by Abdurraqib's book. It's a tribute to A Tribe Called Quest and a tribute to the power music has to grow with the listener. It's a book for anyone who has secluded themselves in headphones, pressed play, and heard themselves singing back in someone else's voice.”
Vibe

“[A] memoir of listening and feeling, a deeply personal book unafraid to pair music criticism with intimate reflections.”
Longreads

Go Ahead in the Rain…cunningly and lovingly weaves memoir and eloquently told music history into a compelling and absorbing tribute to the transformative power of music.”
No Depression

“[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

“Abdurraqib offers a level of historical understanding that only a passionate fan could deliver.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Few writers explore their subjects as lovingly as Hanif Abdurarqib, whose thoughtful, lyrical, insightful new book…should be required reading for everybody.”
Chicago Reader

“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!

“[Go Ahead in the Rain] evokes the sensation listeners get at the end of the last track of a wonderful recording, that recognition of having just heard something remarkable.”
Library Journal

“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

Go Ahead in the Rain transcends the usual fan book for its poetic prose as well as its insights into the wider context of the music.”
Shepherd Express

“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

“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 everything...in 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

Go Ahead in the Rain might appeal most to the music-obsessed, but its audience is wider than its title suggests. At its heart, the book looks at the constant conversation between life and art: how music changes the way we understand and interact with the world, and alters the culture at large.”
Seattle Times

“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

“Abdurraqib brings specificity to what being a Tribe fan means by threading the path of the East Coast rap group with his own.”
Bookforum

“Abdurraqib achingly, beautifully illustrates the evolution of Phife's role [in A Tribe Called Quest].”
Slate

“Reading [Go Ahead in the Rain] is like listening to The Low End Theory with a good friend, and confiding in each other all the feelings and thoughts the music brings up…For anyone who's listened to Tribe so many times that their music feels commonplace, part of the air, invisible, Abdurraqib brings it back to vivid presence through context and beautiful, poetic description.”
KQED Arts

“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

“Perhaps the first notable hip-hop book…to 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

“A stunning work.”
Kenyon Review

“The writing throughout this book is so sharp that I found myself reading and then immediately re-reading lines, amazed at their beauty and precision…Go Ahead in the Rain's tangential, hybrid form is a more accurate representation of the way memories attached to music often feel: non-linear, disjointed, but altogether emotionally vivid.”
JMWW

“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

“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

“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

“The core pleasure [of reading Go Ahead in the Rain] is watching Abdurraqib watch Tribe work. When Phife is distracted during the recording of Tribe's debut album, sneaking away from the studio to catch nearby Knicks games, Abdurraqib is right there with him. Us too.”
Vanity Fair, "The Best Books of 2019, So Far"

“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

“One need not be a fan of Tribe in order for [Go Ahead in the Rain] to do its work, and this is because Abdurraqib elegantly underpins his personal investment in Tribe with the long history of race, culture, and aesthetics in American life.”
Public Books

“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

“[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

“Abdurraqib…is one of the most exciting and empathetic writers we've got…[Go Ahead in the Rain is] a full book of trenchant and highly personal essays about [A Tribe Called Quest].”
The Ringer

“Abdurraqib’s stunning essays – especially his book-length homage Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest – have proven him one of his generation’s most essential cultural voices.”
The Boston Globe

Go Ahead in the Rain reminds anyone fortunate enough to receive its pages that being black in America is to be part of a lineage, that no one person’s story exists in a vacuum, and that, like Hanif with Phife and Ali and Q and Jarobi, connective tissue exists all around us, invisible to the indifferent and brightly illuminated to the curious. ”
Rembert Browne

“This book is a gorgeous offering that will bury itself in the overjoyed heart of every kid who came of age in the '90s.”
Samantha Irby

“If readers first encounter Hanif Abdurraqib's Go Ahead in the Rain as a chronicle of fandom and the development of an aesthetic sensibility, when they come to his bereavement letters—addressing each member of A Tribe Called Quest on the breakup of the group—they will realize something far more compelling is going on. This book is about the struggle of the writer to fully connect with something bigger than himself—ultimately, the world at large, as it will present itself for the rest of his life.”
Greil Marcus