They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

Two Dollar Radio. 2017. 236p. ISBN 9781937512651. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781937512668. SOC SCI
OrangeReviewStarPoet, essayist, and music critic Abdurraqib (The Crown Ain't Worth Much) examines contemporary America through the lens of popular culture. He paints a picture of a divided country in which the political and cultural structures of white America have imposed constraints on the voices, minds, and bodies of African Americans. With a pensive tone, the author considers gender, income, and religion in the context of race—with only twinges of hope for the future. For example, he demonstrates how the punk genre excludes and ignores people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community; how tennis star Serena Williams is expected to remain humble and quiet; and how hip-hop group Migos struggles with credibility because they hail from the suburbs. Abdurraqib's music knowledge is extensive as he comments on diverse genres and artists from Nina Simone to Fall Out Boy to Future. He mixes essays, which touch upon themes such as death, fame, survival, and authenticity, with personal stories about growing up in a Muslim family and losing his mother as a teenager.
VERDICT Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries. Readers don't have to be familiar with the celebrities and artists mentioned to appreciate Abdurraqib's cultural commentary.
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