Well, it seems this number keeps jumping higher and higher. There was a clearer method of listening this year, with more time at home to set a practice around all things, listening was no different. On Friday mornings, I would set aside a couple of hours for discovery — something I’d neglected to do consistently last year with my travel schedule. I’d forgotten about the excitement of it. I’d scour Bandcamp, search for blogs, text my pals who listen even more adventurously than I do and ask them to send me things. I’d compile a list (by hand, foolishly) of…

If you are a person who has ever been incarcerated, or if you are a person who communicates with incarcerated folks by phone with any kind of regularity, you are likely familiar with the voice that hovers over the start of these interactions, reminding you that the call is being recorded. …

How I Got Radicalized

As a child, I knew Radio Raheem died but not how. Only later did I realize a trash can through a window was a reasonable response.

Spike Lee on the set of his film ‘Do the Right Thing’
Spike Lee on the set of his film ‘Do the Right Thing’
Photo illustration, source: Anthony Barboza/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Welcome to How I Got Radicalized, a new series at GEN that tells a story about a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

I was 10 or 11 when I first watched Do the Right Thing, decidedly too young to sit through Spike Lee’s 1989 film peppered with scenes and language that my elders would have likely deemed too “colorful.” …

After so many months of casualties, the only deaths we talk about are the ones that carry a message

Chadwick Boseman. Photo: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images

In the early months of the pandemic, in an effort to pace myself when consuming the torrent of news, I allowed myself to read the charts only once a day. Every night before bed, I would dive in, studying the latest case counts and death tolls. I would spend nearly an hour building small curves inside my head, trying to prepare myself for what might be coming to Ohio. I was trying, as so many did in the beginning months, to take control over a virus that had (and still has) no interest in our desires. …

From Lil Baby to Megan Thee Stallion, rap has defined the activism — and uncertainty — of the Trump era

Noname performing at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, 2017. Photo: PYMCA/Getty Images

It is 2020, and the patience of the people has worn thin. This is true on many fronts, including in our growing ambivalence toward the idea of celebrity. Popular culture will never be entirely free of its obsession with fame, but particularly during the pandemic, there has been a frustration, even an outright dismissal, of celebrity culture. The frustration, largely, stems from how plainly the limits of celebrity have been shown when it comes to offering any direct aid to a high-stakes moment.

In the world of rap music, there have been frustrations as well, particularly in recent weeks. Even…

A new series from GEN looks at how we can reconcile our organizing lives with our working lives

Photo illustration. Sources: Brooke Fasani Auchincloss, Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images

As I have been putting together “The Uprising Marches On,” GEN’s package on what’s next for the movement for Black lives, I have been finding myself explaining to people more and more how I distinguish between my work as a writer and my work as an organizer. For the latter, it comes down to showing up in the best way I can for the many communities which call me one of their own. This is something I feel good about most days. I feel good about the former, too — not often because of my own writing, but for the…

As people march against police brutality, music makes the movement more accessible

Illustration: Rose Wong

It’s hard to explain the extent to which humidity can wear on a body. In Columbus, where I live, spring doesn’t turn gently into summer. The season ends abruptly, with the heat of summer overwhelming the calm air of spring. With so many new people taking to the streets, embarking on miles-long marches, the organizers in my community have sent out intermittent reminders: Start drinking water early, and drink more than you need. Even if it is 85 degrees out, dress like it’s going up to 95. Take a snack, if you can swing it. Walking through the thick, weighty…

Violence is only permissible here when it’s state-sanctioned

Police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 29, 2020. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

I find myself once again struggling with the American definition of violence. With who gets to define what violence is, and what it looks like. Some of this is because violence is so often discussed only as action, and not inaction: Protesters in the streets, but not institutional neglect. Violence in this country is so often discussed in the present, without any historical context. Our country talks about a city on fire, but rarely about what had to burn and who had to be left behind for a city to exist in the first place.

America now finds itself in…

In 1988, the legend took the stage at the Grammys not to accept an award, but to give one — and to demand what he deserved

Photo: Ron Galella/Getty Images

In the late 1980s, Little Richard became a sought-after guest in movies and on television shows — a reversal of sorts after a long, difficult period. The bulk of the ’70s had been hard on the legend; the rock and roll revival circuit didn’t take well to him, and as the decade wore on, his notoriously high-energy shows became marred by sluggishness and vocal issues. He’d complain about the lighting and the microphones. He was weighed down by drugs and alcohol and years of partying. By 1977, he returned to the comforts of the lord, releasing the 1979 gospel album…

With the deaths of Ellis Marsalis, Adam Schlesinger, and John Prine, I’m left wondering whether music really can help us heal

Photo sources: Ebet Roberts/Getty Images, Rich Fury/Getty Images, Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images

Over the past month, I have found myself relying on the warmth of familiar music. As bad news accumulates, I am returning to the records of my past — ones where I can identify every drum flourish and every guitar bend. I am craving the predictability of known sounds, at a time when I am without control in nearly every other aspect of my life. On a run through an empty street, I listen to the Coltrane my father loved. Sweat sits heavy in my too-long hair; my barbershop has been closed for weeks now, its windows covered in brown…

Hanif Abdurraqib

Poet. Writer. | Poetry editor @MuzzleMagazine | Author of The Crown Ain't Worth Much & They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us. | Ohioan

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