Friday, June 3rd, 2005

Mark Anthony Neal on the (New) Death of Rhythm & Blues

Two killer pieces in one week? Yup. Here’s Mark on The Slow Decline of R&B:

“Black music has always had a complicated relationship with big business. That this relationship has typically had little to do with actual music perhaps explains the often unbalanced quality of this thing we’ve come to call R&B. This complicated relationship also partly explains what exactly R&B is. “

What I love about this piece is how easily Mark moves between historical narrative, political economy analysis, and especially, critical aesthetic chops.

These days most hip-hop criticism is only about the latter. The best of it usually only has two of the above, and an understanding of political economy is not part of it. We can talk about the reasons for that–starting with the fact that a paycheck tends to be a great mystifier.

In any case, here’s yet another plug for yall writers, students, and folks who care–please cop Norman Kelley’s Rhythm and Business when it’s reissued in an updated paperback version this August.

And by all means, read (or re-read) Nelson George’s classic The Death of Rhythm and Blues. George ends his book with the rise of hip-hop in the mid-80s, but the way he talks about R & B has some eerie and fascinating parallels that make the book seem prophetic at this point in time…

posted by @ 7:50 am | 1 Comment

One Response to “Mark Anthony Neal on the (New) Death of Rhythm & Blues”

  1. ronnie brown says:

    the politics of Black culture…we can’t seem to get away from it…white folks (among other interested parties) sure go to great lengths trying to co-opt, control, imitate and consolidate the creative energy of Black people…

    the people no one wants to be…the people in whom you are envious or afraid of…the people you claim to be “superior” to.

    somebody call Dr. Phil.

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