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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Music biography, emotional fan tribute, on-point cultural criticism, and candid memoir. Go Ahead in the Rain can’t be squeezed into a single category—and that’s what makes it so brilliant. Throughout his examination of hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest, poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib never half steps, whether he’s discussing the group’s Afrocentric garb or the way the Rodney King beating shaped perceptions of the Tribe’s jazzy, minimalist second album, The Low End Theory. He makes connections between the group’s trajectory, the cultural context of the moment, and his own experiences as a young hip-hop devotee growing up in ’90s Ohio. Abdurraqib’s writing shines with enthusiasm, particularly in the passages where he addresses members of the band directly, pondering their feelings and motivations. The joy he takes in exploring his musical heroes is obvious—not to mention contagious.
Poet Abdurraqib follows up his collection of music criticism They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us with an impassioned, incisive biography cum memoir arguing for hip-hop's importance to the black youth of his generation. Abdurraqib focuses on A Tribe Called Quest, a group that broke out from Queens, N.Y., in 1990. Noting the band's wide-ranging samples Art Blakey, Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone he explains that "The Tribe was one of the first groups to repurpose a long line of sound that our parents, and perhaps their parents, were in love with." He describes his experience trying to find himself as a seventh-grader in Ohio listening to hip-hop on a Walkman and appreciating the band's willingness to tread "a thin line of weirdness." In high school, he got by with a crew of friends whose quick wit and music knowledge gave them enough social cred to keep out of fights. Abdurraqib builds a nuanced portrait of the band and their scene in New York, culminating in a touching series of chapters framed as letters to Q-Tip, the group's founding MC; Phife Dog, "the five-foot assassin with the roughneck business," who died from diabetes in 2016; and Phife's mother, the poet Cheryl Boyce-Taylor. This is a standout volume on hip-hop.
Beautiful book from beginning to end, once I started I couldn’t stop. The whole time I was reading it I felt somewhat of an empty hole knowing Phife is no longer with us, but the story telling made it feel like he was right there reading it with me all along. Great read, great insight. Loved it.
Going into this book I know nothing of the group; just a big fan of Hanif. And I wouldn’t have anyone else teach me.