The writer soundtracks our post-pandemic daydreams
Writer and poet Hanif Abdurraqib is probably more of a music geek than you. He’s been gifted with one of those wide, nonjudging sonic pallets. Of course, Abdurraqib has his bread-and-butter predilections: hip hop, from the Native Tongues to the Diddy dynasty to Chance to Migos and beyond, and—here comes the pivot— punk rock, as shaped by his days as a punk scene-goer in the midwest. With pure curiosity as his modus operandi, there’s no limit to what Abdurraqib bumps to. Music is the primary storytelling agent in his best selling essay collection They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us. Fall Out Boy, Carly Rae Jepsen, Future, are just some of the artists he covers, each with unsparing elegance and his woven personal narratives.
In Abdurraqib’s Document playlist, we pass through turnstiles of different languages, eras, and rhythms. It’s a grab-bag of tracks, apt for the airport layover you wished you had right now—for at least you’d be traveling, in procession, en-route to a nameable somewhere.
The pandemic snuffed our intended destinations, canceling whatever firm futures we imagined for ourselves eight weeks ago. The government’s response, the wellness practices cultivated during isolation, the rabid restlessness, the DIY organizing, and so on, will inform the next destination, the post-pandemic world order 10, 12, 18 months from now. Abdurraqib’s globetrotting playlist gestures to the pan-ness of this pandemic, and also, what the world could sound and feel like when (or if) we get over it—transnational unity, mutual care and respect, and many, many dope potlucks.