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Go Ahead in the Rain

Notes to A Tribe Called Quest
Written by: Hanif Abdurraqib
Narrated by: Ron Butler
Length: 6 hrs and 18 mins
4 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The seminal rap group A Tribe Called Quest brought jazz into the genre, resurrecting timeless rhythms to create masterpieces. This narrative follows Tribe from their early days as part of the Afrocentric rap collective known as the Native Tongues, through their first three classic albums, to their eventual breakup and long hiatus. Their work is placed in the context of the broader rap landscape of the 1990s, one upended by sampling laws that forced a reinvention in production methods, the East Coast-West Coast rivalry that threatened to destroy the genre, and some record labels’ shift from focusing on groups to individual MCs. 

Throughout the narrative, poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib connects the music and cultural history to their street-level impact. Whether he’s remembering The Source magazine cover announcing the Tribe’s 1998 breakup or writing personal letters to the group after bandmate Phife Dawg’s death, Abdurraqib seeks the deeper truths of A Tribe Called Quest, truths that - like the low end, the bass - are not simply heard in the head but are felt in the chest. Digging into the group’s history, Abdurraqib draws from his own experience to reflect on how its distinctive sound resonated among fans like himself. The result is as ambitious and genre-bending as the rap group itself.

©2019 Dreamscape Media, LLC (P)2019 Dreamscape Media, LLC

What the critics say

"[R]iveting and poetic…Abdurraqib's gift is his ability to flip from a wide angle to a zoom with ease. He is a five-tool writer, slipping out of the timeline to deliver vivid, memoiristic splashes as well as letters he's crafted to directly address the central players, dead and living." (Washington Post)
 

"[W]arm, immediate, and intensely personal...This lush and generous book is a call to pay proper respects not just to a sound but to a feeling." (New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Joshua Lindell
  • 2019-03-06

Beautiful

I do not often spend a monthly credit on a book as short as 8 hours, but I have long claimed Tribe Called Quest as my favorite hip hop group, and very much wanted to consume the content of this book. I am so very glad that I did.
This is a beautifully written book delivered perfectly. At times informative and often emotional, even threatening to bring tears to my eyes in a few parts. There is nostalgia for things long gone, cassette tapes and eagerly waiting for the next issue of a magazine. There is discussion of music's influence, both at a cultural level and a personal level.
I recommend this work of art.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-03-05

Great book!!! 'Meh' on the narration (sadly)

Incredible and beautiful recounting of a love for hip hop and for the phenomenal rap group that is A Tribe Called Quest. The narration (almost) killed it though. And not 'killed' in a good way. Next time hire someone who knows how to pronounce Eric B and RAH-kim and The Fugees correctly. Just being black doesn't qualify you to narrate a book on great hip hop.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Stephen Brown
  • 2019-03-07

Amazing

The book captures the spirit of a Tribe Called Quest in amazing detail. The author does such a good job with saluting Tribe, while also making profound statements about growing up & maturing. The book is hard to describe but is certainly worth the read. It explores hip hop history while also explaining the state of the world at the time. I highly recommend this book

7 people found this helpful

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  • Muva
  • 2019-06-24

Amazing book, somewhat detached narration

This book is interesting, personal, and also incredibly well researched on the history of various hip hop groups and various points in rap history. The book is not just the history of ATCQ, but contextualizes how they came together and created their work. Abdurraqib is a huge music geek and it really shines through in his writing.

The narration is good, very clear, but the performer (not the author) seems detached from the music. He pronounces some names wrong, and seems like he hasn't listened to some of the music quoted in the book. It would've been really cool to have the author doing the narration -- to hear a little more passion in the material -- but this narrator was ok.

11 people found this helpful

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  • MVV
  • 2019-04-19

Beautiful narration, beautiful words

Not only did I learn all about A TCQ and the history of hip hop; I also enjoyed the incredibly thoughtful and beautiful reflections on cultural history (including but not limited to music), growing up a sibling, nostalgia for the 90s and for childhood/formative years, recent politics, and much more. Beautiful writing, absolutely wonderful narration.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Leon Jones Jr.
  • 2019-09-18

Salute to Tribe Called Quest and their Fans

narrator was great ,gave vision in his reading. This is nice memory of music past

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joe Kraus
  • 2019-09-16

More, Much More, than Just a Band Tribute

Louis Armstrong once famously said of understanding jazz, “If you gotta ask, you’ll never know.” As evocative as that legendary phrase has been to representing the meaning of the form, though, there were still some of us who had to ask.

I was lucky to have a father who got it. Not the cutting edge stuff, not Eric Dolphy or AACM, but he was open-minded to a degree that’s astonishing only in retrospect. Without being a fanatic, he knew a lot of the good music that was out there, at least first-generation. He told me once that he was able to see Sidnet Bechet play regularly, and he once wrote a story inspired by the experience. The first time he took me to hear Dixieland jazz – at a cousin’s wedding in New Orleans – he told me most of what I needed to know: the music was a conversation, with each separate performer telling his (or rarely, her) version of the same story, commenting on, amplifying, or contradicting what others had said. His one sentence changed the way I heard the world.

All of us were lucky to have, most prominently among other fine writers, James Baldwin, who explained the creative work behind jazz’s next generation. “Sonny’s Blues” taught me to hear Thelonius Monk, Horace Silver, Bud Powell and other pianists; it opened up the space between the notes as something I could appreciate as much as the notes themselves.

And now, with this, those of us who still have to ask are lucky enough to have Hanif Abdurriq to tell us about what was happening in the early years of hip-hop as a strain of artists found a way to wed the new aesthetics of production to an artistic and political vision that stretched back through Baldwin and the most thoughtful of the African-American tradition.

I picked this up to get a primer on how to listen to A Tribe Called Quest, and that would have been enough. I didn’t expect to find a writer so gifted, one who – like Baldwin – is able to strike his own pose while keeping one foot in the academic world and another in the smoky jazz club/house party cultural space. Abdurriq is a jazz poet himself, though, someone whose rhythm of language matches the complexity of his rhythms of thought.

So, reading him is a joy, as much a joy as learning about the music that inspired him. I already had a feel for “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” (some 20 years after it was really hot), but this is my first time appreciating “Bonita Applebum,” and some of the other pieces. I had already liked what I heard of their final album – their Saturday Night Live performance in the wake of the Trump election was a comfort in its focused anger – and now I have a larger way of connecting their earliest work with their final.

Not all of this is as incandescent as the early chapters. Toward the middle this “descends” to what I’d originally hoped it would be, a catalogue of the band’s material and, at times, a look behind the scenes at how the pressures of the industry changed their dynamic and relationships. I enjoyed even this part, though, since it’s what I thought I was coming for. Abdurraqib presumes a background knowledge of Q-Tip and Phife-Dawg that I didn’t have, but that’s nothing that a couple minutes on Wikipedia can’t cure.

What’s more, there’s the bonus for me that, while he’s writing as an African-American who came of age in hip-hop’s adolescence, he’s also writing as a Midwesterner in a genre defined by a clash of different coasts. More specifically, he’s writing as an Ohioan – he went to Beechcroft High School, close enough to my own that my team wrestled there every year – so I feel guided here by someone on whom I can make a modest claim of shared perspective (even if I am a decade older).

I’d have recommended this if all it did was answer my basic question(s) about the Tribe of Quest/Native Tongues school of hip-hop. It turns out to be much more than that, though. It’s elegant and excellent enough that, if I get the chance to teach African-American literature again, pieces of it will be on my long-list of possible things to share.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-08-31

I don't even love hip-hop all that much!

I spread this over a drawn out week, first because of how beautiful the narration is I want to listen to this man forever, but most importantly due to the fact that I had to look up so much while listening. I didn't know jackshit about hip-hop herstory before now, but I'm an expert now, give me all your money! 😂

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  • Michael Del Muro
  • 2020-01-11

More than a history of Tribe

This book is part memoir, part music history, part A Tribe Called Quest biography. It’s a great listen.

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  • PopNTod
  • 2019-12-30

Masterpiece!

Found my eyes tearing up throughout the book thanks to the beautiful prose and imagery.