Autobiography of Song: Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib & Timuel Black

March 17th, 2019

From autobiography to music criticism, poet, essayist, and cultural critic Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib walks the floor of the Seminary Co-op in conversation with the books that served as muses of his love letter to A Tribe Called Quest, Go Ahead in the Rain. Oral historian and civil rights activist Timuel D. Black, Jr. shares his long-awaited memoir, Sacred Ground.

This episode, Hanif Abdurraqib joins us in the stacks, sharing his favorite works on the Co-op shelves as well as some that influenced his new work, Go Ahead in the Rain : Notes to a Tribe Called Quest. Hanif visited the Co-op March 10, 2019, for a reading and conversation with interlocutor, Tara Betts.

On this episode, Abdurraqib discusses how he doesn't think music criticism is reserved for experts––rather, great criticism offers a nuanced lens on a group's sound. If this outlook speaks to you, have a look at Andy Merrifield's The Amateur: The Pleasures of Doing What You Love. And if you're looking for more of Hanif's music tributes, check out this excerpt from his introduction to PRINCE: The Last Interview. Hanif attributed Eve Ewing's poetry collection, Electric Arches, as a key influence. If you haven't already, be sure to listen to Open Stacks #26, where we featured her poetry.

And if you, like Colin, are unfamiliar with A Tribe Called Quest, you can get up to speed with this NPR feature with Marc Rivers and Rolling Stone's guide to their essential songs.


On January 19th of this year, historian, activist, and storyteller Timuel Black visited the Co-op to discuss his long awaited-memoirSacred Ground along with Susan Klonsky and Bart Schultz. 

Below, you can listen to the Duke Ellington song that Black mentions, Come Sunday.

Below, you can find all the books we featured in this episode, including the featured titles that Alena shared. Explore our Front Table 
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