Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest

Hanif Ab­dur­raqib

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction - PETER DABBENE

Univer­sity of Texas Press (FE­BRU­ARY) Soft­cover $16.95 (200pp), 978-1-4773-1648-1

Hanif Ab­dur­raqib views the legacy of a clas­sic and re­spected rap group through a dis­tinctly per­sonal lens in Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest. As the sub­ti­tle might im­ply, 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.

Ad­bur­raquib has writ­ten ex­ten­sively about mu­sic, in the form of po­ems and es­says; here, he be­gins with an ex­plo­ration of mu­sic’s his­tory, from slaves, to jazz, to A Tribe Called Quest, his own prose of­ten fall­ing into a kind of flow and rhythm that re­calls his sub­ject.

De­spite, or per­haps be­cause of, Ab­dur­raquib’s weav­ing of per­sonal episodes into the book, he paints a vivid pic­ture of the en­vi­ron­ment into which A Tribe Called Quest emerged, trac­ing the im­pact of var­i­ous rap al­bums dur­ing the late 1980s and 1990s.

The story of A Tribe Called Quest makes for great drama, even with­out Ad­bur­raquib’s orig­i­nal in­sights. Q-tip, the face and driv­ing force of the group, of­ten butted heads with Phife, its funny and charis­matic MC, re­sult­ing in A Tribe Called Quest’s even­tual breakup. Oc­ca­sional con­certs and a doc­u­men­tary film marked a spo­radic and haz­ardous route to a fi­nal, ac­claimed re­union al­bum in 2016.

There’s lit­tle doubt that rap fans will love Go Ahead in the Rain, but even those not fa­mil­iar with the genre or the group may find them­selves en­tranced by Ab­dur­raquib’s book.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.