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Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, this book uncovers the historical trajectory of U.S. independent hip-hop in the post-golden era, seeking to understand its complex relationship to mainstream hip-hop culture and U.S. culture more generally. Christopher Vito analyzes the lyrics of indie hip-hop albums from 2000-2013 to uncover the dominant ideologies of independent artists regarding race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and social change. These analyses inform interviews with members of the indie hip-hop community to explore the meanings that they associate with the culture today, how technological and media changes impact the boundaries between independent and major, and whether and how this shapes their engagement with oppositional consciousness. Ultimately, this book aims to understand the complex and contradictory cultural politics of independent hip-hop in the contemporary age.
At its most intimate level, music heals our emotional wounds and inspires us. At its most public, it unites people across cultural boundaries. But can it rebuild a city? That's the central question posed in New Atlantis, journalist John Swenson's beautifully detailed account of the musical artists working to save America's most colorful and troubled metropolis: New Orleans. The city has been threatened with extinction many times during its three-hundred-plus-year history by fire, pestilence, crime, flood, and oil spills. Working for little money and in spite of having lost their own homes and possessions to Katrina, New Orleans's most gifted musicians-including such figures as Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, "Trombone Shorty," and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux-are fighting back against a tidal wave of problems: the depletion of the wetlands south of the city (which are disappearing at the rate of one acre every hour), the violence that has made New Orleans the murder capitol of the U.S., the waning tourism industry, and above all the continuing calamity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (or, as it is known in New Orleans, the "Federal Flood"). Indeed, most of the neighborhoods that nurtured the indigenous music of New Orleans were destroyed in the flood, and many of the elder statesmen have died or been incapacitated since then, but the musicians profiled here have stepped up to fill their roles. New Atlantis is their story. Packed with indelible portraits of individual artists, informed by Swenson's encyclopedic knowledge of the city's unique and varied music scene-which includes jazz, R&B, brass band, rock, and hip hop-New Atlantis is a stirring chronicle of the valiant efforts to preserve the culture that gives New Orleans its grace and magic.
Hip-Hop music encompasses an extraordinarily diverse range of approaches to politics. Some rap and Hip-Hop artists engage directly with elections and social justice organizations; others may use their platform to call out discrimination, poverty, sexism, racism, police brutality, and other social ills. In Pulse of the People, Lakeyta M. Bonnette illustrates the ways rap music serves as a vehicle for the expression and advancement of the political thoughts of urban Blacks, a population frequently marginalized in American society and alienated from electoral politics. Pulse of the People lays a foundation for the study of political rap music and public opinion research and demonstrates ways in which political attitudes asserted in the music have been transformed into direct action and behavior of constituents. Bonnette examines the history of rap music and its relationship to and extension from other cultural and political vehicles in Black America, presenting criteria for identifying the specific subgenre of music that is political rap. She complements the statistics of rap music exposure with lyrical analysis of rap songs that espouse Black Nationalist and Black Feminist attitudes. Touching on a number of critical moments in American racial politics-including the 2008 and 2012 elections and the cases of the Jena 6, Troy Davis, and Trayvon Martin-Pulse of the People makes a compelling case for the influence of rap music in the political arena and greatly expands our understanding of the ways political ideologies and public opinion are formed.
Mary J. Blige is an icon who represents the political consciousness of hip hop and the historical promise of soul. She is an everywoman, celebrated by Oprah Winfrey and beloved by pop music fans of all ages and races. Blige has sold over fifty million albums, won numerous Grammys, and even played at multiple White House events, as well as the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Displaying astonishing range and versatility, she has recorded everything from Broadway standards to Led Zeppelin anthems and worked with some of popular music's greatest artists-Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Sting, U2, and Beyonce, among them. Real Love, No Drama: The Music of Mary J. Blige tells the story of one of the most important artists in pop music history. Danny Alexander follows the whole arc of Blige's career, from her first album, which heralded the birth of "hip hop soul," to her critically praised 2014 album, The London Sessions. He highlights the fact that Blige was part of the historically unprecedented movement of black women onto pop radio and explores how she and other women took control of their careers and used their music to give voice to women's (and men's) everyday struggles and dreams. This book adds immensely to the story of both black women artists and artists rooted in hip hop and pays tribute to a musician who, by expanding her reach and asking tough questions about how music can and should evolve, has proven herself an artistic visionary.
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