On Music and Books

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

(Editor’s note: Reader questions are in bold, followed by Ta-Nehisi’s replies.)

I’ve been listening to Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound album on repeat for a couple days now and it blew my mind when I looked at the credits and realized it was you at talking at the end of “Love Ya.” How did that even happen?

They asked to sample. I said, sure. It’s a cool album.

What music have you been grooving to recently?

Rihanna. Frank Ocean. Kilo Kish. Old Jay-Z.

What sort of history books, if any, are you reading these days? I loved your discussion of Bloodlands.

Very slowly making my way through Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction.

Have you been following Jamelle Bouie’s reading of it at Slate?

Nah. Gotta stay in my own head.

I know you’re not much of a football fan these days, but I was wondering if you have any thoughts on (what seems to be) the steadily growing pushback against taxpayer-subsidized stadiums in major cities around the country (including, as of this week, San Diego). Will we see an end to these sorts of deals anytime soon? Should we?

I actually am back watching. Got pulled back in. Was looking for some part of me that was lost. More on that soon.

How has your living in France modified your point of view about race and culture, or has it?

Left me thinking a lot more about the international implications of the twin legacies of colonialism and enslavement. I’m not prepared to say anything definitive. But there’s a lot of interesting stuff there. Things like looking at the reaction of white Southerners to the Civil War, and the reaction of les pieds noirs to the Algerian War.

Just questions right now, honestly. Nothing certain.

How’s your French, at this point? Have you tried it out shouting at an American tourist or two?

Ça avance. Mais la langues étranger sont toujours difficile. Particularmente pour les adults. J'ai une prof privée. Nous rencontrons une fois ou deux fois chaque semaine. Donc, je vais continuer. J'adore français.

Désolé pour mes faults.

“Les langues”! C’est pluriel. Bonne continuation!