book hack

A Little Devil in America

Hanif Abdurraqib

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

Poet and music critic Hanif Abdurraqib reflects on Black culture in the U.S. in a series of deeply personal and poetic short essays exploring the ties between music, performance, and culture.


A Little Devil in America

A Little Devil in America

by Hanif Abdurraqib


What did the death of Michael Jackson mean to our culture? How did we choose to mourn Aretha Franklin? Why does music still have the power to connect us to others, and to our past?

In this essay collection, Hanif Abdurraqib draws on his experiences as a performance poet and a life-long lover of dance to tackle questions of how black performance artists have shaped our past and present.

Known for his poetry as well as his cultural criticism for outlets like MTV and Pitchfork, Abdurraqib discusses his early experiences in sweaty nightclubs as well as media representations of black performers, darting between the personal and the political. A Little Devil in America sheds light on racial division and historical oppression, while ultimately celebrating the transcendent power of the arts.

Favorite quote

This was the real joy of dancing: to enter a world unlike the one you find yourself burdened with, and move your body toward nothing but a prayer that time might slow down.

- Hanif Abdurraqib

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