Cover Image: They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

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Member Reviews

❤ This is my third read by this artist and he has yet to disappoint. Part Memoir, history and manifesto he narrates with a passion that kept me tuned in from beginning to end. There are some triggers as he blended music, the political climate and the plight of being Black in America with an unassuming subtle talent in his depiction. This is one of those books I will be sure to listen to again. #MUSTREAD. ❤
#TheyCantKillUsUntilTheyKillUs #NetGalley

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One of the most extraordinary books I've ever experienced. An enlightening, educational, poetic look at music, musicians, how culture informs our lives and the lives of others. I absolutely adored this. I especially enjoyed the snippets in the audiobook in which the author reconsiders his essays. Very cool addition here.

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Exquisitely written -- Abdurraqib's background as a poet is clear. I appreciated his serious consideration of popular music from across the genre spectrum and how he wove it in with his personal experiences. His narration adds a lot to the experience and I loved hearing his comments on some of the essays in hindsight. I probably would have appreciated it even more if I were more into music and more familiar with some of the artists and songs he talks about, but even without that I really enjoyed this collection.

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I remember hearing about this book when it was originally published in 2017. I don’t know why I waited so long to read it. I LOVED IT!!! I adored Abdurraqib’s love of culture and music, and I just really want to be his friend because he has fantastic taste in music on top of being a great storyteller. He tackles some weighty topics, but there is also a lot of fun and joy. I look forward to reading more of his work.

📖 Admittedly, I’m not the biggest music buff, but I loved the range of musical experiences Abdurraqib discusses throughout this book, the connections he makes to world events, and the impact it all had on him as a young, Black, Muslim guy navigating life.

His writing is insightful, vibrant, and thought-provoking. I connected with his examination of music from the early 2000s pop-punk scene. His essays on Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance were fantastic and had me thinking about how I’ve changed since my emo-kid days.

I loved his cultural observations like his essay “It Rained In Ohio On The Night Allen Iverson Hit Michael Jordan With A Crossover” in which he examines code-switching, especially for Black professionals. He contrasts Jordan, who was often portrayed as a “proper Black man” who toned down his Blackness for the white NBA ownership, against Iverson, who refused to be anyone but himself on and off the court. He examines the treatment of the two men and their image both by ownership and in the media and what message that sent to audiences. I found it all really interesting.

🎧 The audiobook is voiced by Abdurraqib, which lends to the impact his essays have. I loved his casualness and I liked that it didn’t feel like an overly produced recording. I thought this was a great choice given how personal these essays felt. It made it feel like we were having a conversation. It was just a fantastic listening experience. Make sure to pick this one up!

⚠️ Content Warnings ⚠️
This story includes descriptions of racial slurs, racism, death, police brutality, Islamophobia, grief, suicide, addiction, and child death.

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I love this book of essays so much. I enjoyed it just as much as an audiobook. Well-crafted, thought-provoking and humorous essays by Hanif Abdurraqib.

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I was given a NetGalley widget for this one a year ago and I just got around to reading it and dangit it was so good. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have consumed this wildly relevant fictional tale, which felt not at all fictional, more like historical fiction, due to the times. The cover initially was what drew me in, but I'm so thankful to have stuck with it because the outcome was magical. I always love listening to audiobooks and when they sweep me off my feet, I'm just utterly captivated! I always really enjoy multi-cultural thrillers, for I embark on a journey through a land unknown to me, while still getting spooked.

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What a collection.

Hanif Abdurraqib has a way of putting words to music etc. while also discussing culture, politics, love, racism, and his experiences. It's outstanding and poetic and powerful.

Part of me is annoyed I hadn't read this collection yet, but I'm glad I got to hear it in his voice. Included in the audiobook are several prefaces in which Abdurraqib reflects on previously written essays prior to reading them, giving additional context. There is one essay from the original collection (August 9th, 2014) that he skipped narrating and explained he just couldn't do justice via audio (an erasure essay) - I wish that had been included in some way, shape, or form for readers needing the audio (not everyone can refer back to the book in "its original form").

I listened to more than a few parts twice, or even three times, because these essays are just that good. Highly recommend.

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These essays dig deep on music, lyrics, sports and what it means to be Black in America. His dissection of all things pop culture is spot on. I enjoyed his take on Chance the Rapper and agree with his take on The Weekend. He speaks with a matter of fact yet deprecating voice. He talks about Allen Iverson (Philly yo!) against Michael Jordan and how fantastic Iverson was with his signature double crossover and the measure of greatness. He speaks on Black athletes knowing their greatness versus their perceived "place." He talks about Boyz n The Hood and what that movie meant at the time, along with his musings on Ice Cube. The contents of each essay come across as honest, clear and true in its delivery. There are so many portions of various essays that really stuck out to me. I will never not love anything and everything that Hanif Abdurraqib writes. His work cannot really be explained and should be consumed and experienced first-hand.

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This was my first encounter with this book, I hadn’t read it before, but I had heard great reviews of it. This audiobook was incredible, and Abdurraqib’s voice lends itself to this medium. The essays were engaging and thought provoking, and his cadence is amazing.

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4.5/5 stars

This book was incredible and I have only ever heard it’s praises sung. Now I know that it is 100% well deserved. The audiobook version was also such a wonderful reading experience. It was read by the author, and we got to hear small asides and retrospective tid- bits about the essays. Hanif also has such a lyrical cadence to his voice, making this such an easy and enjoyable listening experience.

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I picked this up on the recommendation of a friend and it was fantastic.

The way that Hanif Abdurraquib uses music and pop culture to contextualise his experiences is fantastic and gives such a brilliant touchstone for the reader to connect and compare their own with his.

Having the audiobook narrated by him also really adds alot to reading it.

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They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us covers a wide range of topics. From music, race, and politics that explores how these themes intersect with the author, Hanif Abdurraqib, life.
Hanif Abdurraqib writes about the importance of music particularly punk and hip-hop in his life and the lives of others. When he spoke about Prince I was in tears and felt his words in a very personal and true way. They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us also discusses the ways in which art can be used to resist oppressive systems and ways it can bring people together to create change.

This is a thought-provoking and deeply personal collection of Abdurraqib’s essays. If you are a reader interested in culture and the other topics mentioned this book is definitely a read. I won’t spoil it but his essays on Fall Out Boy, Prince, and Carly Rae Jepsen are MUST reads. The essays on Michael Brown and Black Lives Matter are also very important to read.

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Goodness gracious, I love an essay collection. This one is even more special the way it has music as the base and uses it to relate to well, everything.

The chapter about Fall Out Boy brought back such visceral memories for me that I stopped reading and went straight to my iTunes library to listen to some of my old favorites. I love how Abdurraqib talks about the history of the band and even how they used to get booed. It was fascinating.

One of the best things about this book is the way our author brings every single essay full circle. No matter what all he discusses during an essay it all connects by the end and is almost always incredibly insightful. The Marvin Gaye chapter gave me actual goosebumps.

Abdurraquib's voice is powerful. There's so many awful things in this world that don't make sense - violence against Black people, discrimination of Muslims, horrific gun violence. He does not back down from these heavy topics, but meets them head on. At the times when he's his most raw and truthful, I'm reminded of other amazing writers like Kiese Laymon and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Pick this book up, especially the newest version with previously unreleased essays.

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A must read for music lovers.

For anyone who has ever found joy and solace in music, companionship through seeing live music with others, and an appreciation for different experiences brought to life through the medium, this book is the love letter to music and music lovers that we’ve all been waiting for.

So much of entertainment journalism (and especially that which focuses on music) is dedicated to the arbitration of taste, the technical aspects of producing a song, and a who’s who of those who contributed to its creation.

This book is not about that, but rather about he experience of music for the listener, and how that experience guides and changes you, comforts you, and brings you joy.

Abdurraqib is truly a fan of music, and I mean that in the best possible way. This is appreciation rather than criticism, and the author’s passion for the subject and ability to share how it impacts his life (and all of our lives, really) was such a delight to read.

I was impressed by the variety of types of music he speaks on, and how compellingly he ties it back to both his own and the collective experience.

The book is an easy and quick read in terms of pacing and pleasure for the reader, but it does make you think too. And in my case, make you consider listening to more Carly Rae Jepsen.

If you’re able I highly recommend reading this book in audio format. The author narrates it and his doing so really enhances the experience.

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Thank you NetGalley and OrangeSky Audio for the advanced review copy of this audiobook. One of my reading goals for this year was to read more nonfiction and I'm so glad I came across this one. It was incredible, I really enjoyed listening to the audio especially since it was read by the author. After a few essays I had to go listen to the artists he was talking about! He talks about music, sports, art, movies, politics, racism. You can tell he is a poet, the writing is wonderful, but all of the essays felt easy to understand/relate to. Highly recommend!

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I had the pleasure of meeting Hanif Abdurraqib at a promotional event for his book "Go Ahead in the Rain" in 2019. I had read a selection of the essays included in "They Can't Kill Us Before They Kill Us" before the event, but hearing him in person convinced me that his work is best taken in in his own voice. Thus, I was thrilled to find out that Hanif would be narrating this collection, and I wasn't disappointed. Hanif is an insightful and clearly knowledgeable music critic, but he is first and foremost a poet. Like most poets, his writing is fleshed out in whole new dimensions when read aloud, particularly in the writer's own voice. Hanif's work is truly an experience, and I look forward to listening to more of his narrations.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Two Dollar Radio Publishing for access to the audiobook of They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, so we all know that it's Nathan Shuherk's (@schizophrenicreads of TikTok fame) goal in life to get everyone to read this book. Knowing nothing about this book, I picked it up on his recommendation alone. And I'm so glad I did! I will always be the first to say that I live under a rock and know almost nothing about music because it can be overstimulating to me. So I won't even pretend that I fully understood all the music references in this book, but it is so clear that Hanif has a deep knowledge and appreciation for the subject. Part spoken word, part societal critique, Hanif was able to expertly weave art into his scathing analysis of Islamophobia, racism, addiction, mass shootings, sexual assault and other plagues of our modern world. This is a must read for increasing cultural competence from an own-voices source.

If you can get your hands on the audiobook, I highly recommend it! The spoken word format lends itself particularly well to the audio format. The author himself narrates the book, at times pausing in his reading to add extra tidbits about his writing process and inspiration.

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A really wonderful, sharp collection of essays that explore the author’s identity and culture through music. The author’s essays provide a poignant exploration of how music shapes our lives and our experiences. The audiobook (read by the author) was particularly terrific. The author is clearly a poet and I think it enhances the reading experience to hear his words spoken aloud.

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Thanks to NetGalley and OrangeSky Audio for the audiobook ARC!

Hanif Abdurraqib writes on a variety of topics, including music, art, movies, sports, culture, and highlights the way that the implicit racism of our society changes the experience for a Black man such as himself. Very enlightening and interesting essays.

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Thank you for this copy of the audiobook! I was thrilled that this was recorded as an audiobook, and I was amazed by the writing and storytelling. There are so many powerful essays about music and life that it would be hard to summarize this book or even pick a favorite... but I cried to a story about Fall Out Boy and this felt therapeutic.

Hanif is one of the best writers and I am always amazed at his brilliance in writing what it feels like to be alive, to hurt, but to always want to be here.

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