go ahead in the rain

these are notes taken directly after reading Hanif Abdurraqib’s “GO AHEAD IN THE RAIN: NOTES TO A TRIBE CALLED QUEST”

There’s a difference between acknowledging a good song and an impactful song in that the former is significantly more objective than the latter. Anyone can love a good song… but there are the songs that are out of place in the commercial stream or unconventionally created in a way that weeds out the people who weren’t really there to listen in the first place. And I should note that this is applicable to sequences of songs in the same way that it applies to singular ones. There are certain sounds & lyrics that are made for a certain listener. That’s what impact is.

But it took me a while to understand that not everyone craves the impact more than they crave the good. Not everyone feels the tight air braced in the lung-heart skips a beat-wrinkle between the brow-impact of a sound that carries a story so niche or rightfully abstract that it almost acts as a code, decipherable only to those with a shared experience. So to acknowledge a good song… is to acknowledge a good song. To acknolwedge an impactful song, is to be vulnerable.

It’s comforting to be invited into a space that acknowledges impact over goodness. Whether intentional or not, Abdurraqib spoke of the mixtape in a way that feels true to what I mean:

"The value of the tape was also the crafting of a mixtape. I am from an era when we learned not to waste songs. If you are creating a cassette that you must listen to all the way through, and you are crafting it with your own hands and your own ideas, then it is on you not to waste sounds and to structure a tape with feeling."

Maybe the way we share music is also the way we share space or build relationships… or vice versa. To share only the good and to share it liberally or to create moments in intimacy and reflection.
It is much easier to share a good song

In ‘Go Ahead In The Rain’, Hanif Abdurraqib opens up an intimate room under the guise of a little story about A Tribe Called Quest and one of their biggest fans. But being the poet that he is, I’m not sure why I walked out of the room so surprised (I shed tears). It’s a story about hip hop, sure, and it’s a story about Abdurraqib himself, but it’s also a story about a culture that doesn’t belong to me… and as I sat in this room, fully aware of the intimacy and the vulnerability necessary to take the impactful sounds of a 90s rap group and put everything that came with it out on a table for every reader–regardless of identity– to see and dissect freely, my own vulnerability got pulled out from the corner I hide it in and pushed back right into my face. It said, “this is what it looks like to make words out of feeling… and to trace that feeling to an origin. And to share it, engage with it, and be fearlessly meaningful.”

Note to self: Use the mediums you know best– start with something simple. Share a song, share art, share culture, and then maybe, you will find your words.

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