10 Things Hanif Abdurraqib Can't Live Without
Written by Julia Jeffers
While the city of Columbus may not be often be considered a national art hotspot, those in the know realize that the art scene has rivaled much larger cities on the coasts since the late 19th Century. In fact, at one time, the state of Ohio was known as the third most important center of art production, behind only New York and LA. Whether it is food, fashion, music or art, a creative scene has thrived and grown in central Ohio because of leaders who are passionate about their work and community, and who serve as influence and inspiration for others to create alongside them and follow in their footsteps. Decades down the line, when we reflect on Columbus in 2022, who will be the artists and voices who persevere as crucial representations of the culture we find ourselves in today?
It would be difficult to name another artist in the state of Ohio - and, perhaps, the entire midwest - whose work is as essential to its time and place as Hanif Abdurraqib. His award-winning 2017 collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was named a book of the year by NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among many others. His personal and semi-autobiographical approach to the collection includes stories about traveling across the state for music shows in dank basements with old and bygone friends, his experiences coming of age as a Black man in rural Ohio, and heartfelt tributes to musicians as iconic as Prince and as unlikely as Carly Rae Jepsen.
In the months directly before the release of the collection, I visited Two Dollar Radio, the independent publishing company headquartered in a cozy coffee shop on Parsons Avenue, for an intimate Q&A with Abdurraqib. His contemplative, personal and witty style was as obvious in person as it is in his writing and immediately cemented him for me as one of the most important voices in our city. Since then, Hanif’s platform and artistic range has expanded significantly to include Go Ahead In The Rain, a book chronicling both his experiences with and the history of the legendary rap trio A Tribe Called Quest, and A Little Devil in America, another collection of essays exploring the history and impact of Black performers and artists on American culture.
Despite his national acclaim, Hanif remains staunchly humble and a passionate supporter of our city - on a given day you can find him speaking at venues around Columbus, wandering German Village in pursuit of local fare, and tweeting about one of the many sports teams in Ohio who manage to rise simultaneously to levels of both thrilling and infuriating.
We reached out to Hanif to ask him for the ten most essential things he can’t live without, and he responded in his usual concise yet thoughtful manner. A list of Hanif’s upcoming appearances can be found on his website. He also currently curates a collection of essays on decades of music and the meanings they hold, www.68to05.com/.
1. The pyrite crystal on my desk.
2. My Bubba water bottle.
3. Pholk Beauty H2Oil Night Treatment Hemp x Hibiscus Night Oil.
4. Nike x sacai Waffle sneakers.
5. Any number of dog toys.
6. My dog, Wendy.
7. The TV show Severance.
8. Jeni’s SWEET CREAM BISCUITS & PEACH JAM ice cream.
9. Blackberry Spindrift.
10. Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key of Life.