Touré on Finding a Quiet Space to Write and Digging into the Work

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When he’s not writing on his MacBook, Touré stays organized with his favorite Moleskine notebook and blue uni-ball micro point pen. “The relationship of the pen to the paper, the way the uni-ball feels on the Moleskin, there’s a sharpness of the pen to the paper and it doesn’t get messy. There’s a crispness. That feels really good.” Photo by Benjamin Norman


January 5, 2021

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Touré is almost always writing—for his Touré Show podcast or working on his new book, an oral history of Prince, or in the midst of a movie script or TV show. He was quite literally working on all of these projects when I spoke with him in November.

“Writing is a constant for me. It’s something I really love,” he says. “I feel at home even in the muck of ‘here’s a group of sentences and paragraphs to rearrange and make your idea clearer. I feel enlivened digging into the work.”

Touré says he tries to write every day. While his perfect writing spot has ranged from a more formal desk to the dining room table to inside Brooklyn’s Center for Fiction, he says he’s become a person who’s quite comfortable, even productive, sitting on the couch writing.

“I can sit on the couch and actually get stuff done,” he says. Quiet, though, is key. “To hear anyone else’s voice breaks the entire fragile juggling act.”

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Touré has written six books, including “I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon” and “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness: A Look At What It Means To Be Black Now.” Photo by Benjamin Norman

That can be difficult in work from home times, when his wife, an editorial director, is on a conference call, and his pre-teen kids are in Zoom school. But he stays focused and gets it all done, taking inspiration from all sorts of places, from Zadie Smith to James Baldwin to David Foster Wallace.

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Touré has written countless music features in addition to his books and hosting gigs. Framed works like these, a cover story for Rolling Stone, fill his Brooklyn home. Photo by Benjamin Norman

In addition to his current projects, Touré has worked as a TV host and contributor across major networks and cable outlets, including hosting The Cycle on MSNBC, Hip Hop Shop on Fuse, the Black Carpet on BET, and Spoke N Heard on MTV. He was CNN’s first pop culture correspondent.

He says, “I’ve always been enamored and in love with music and performing and wanting just to see what artists are all about.”


A version of this article originally appeared in Sixtysix Issue 05 with the headline “Touré: Author, Brooklyn, New York.” Subscribe today.