We recently asked Simon Jones, author of Black Culture, White Youth: The Reggae Tradition from UK to JA about his favorite music biographies or books and if he had read any recently that they’d like to recommend. Here’s what Simon had to say.
Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America
by Tricia Rose (1994)
"One of the first serious studies of hip-hop culture, and still ranks as one of the best. If you want to understand how hip-hop emerged from the particular social and historical context that was the South Bronx in the 1970s, then this is the book to read. Notable also for its rich analysis of the orality and humanised technology that lie at the heart of rap and hip-hop. "
Subculture: The Meaning of Style by Dick Hebdige (1979)
"The book that launched a thousand cultural studies courses. Ground-breaking, highly influential gem that brings Marx, Genet and Barthes to bear on decoding post-war British youth subcultures. One of the first studies to make the connection between black and white youth cultures in Britain, Hebdige looks at how successive white subcultures grew up around the black community and found a “phantom history of race relations” played out on the stylistic surfaces of British youth culture."
Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks (2007)
"Through a series of case studies which explore the relationship between music and various disorders of the mind and the brain, Sacks reveals something vital about the emotional power of music to cut through to people’s deepest memories, dreams and hopes. Best read in conjunction with viewing the film “Alive Inside.” Hard not be moved."
One Chord Wonders: Power and Meaning in Punk Rock by Dave Laing (1985)
"One of the first full-length studies of the heyday of British punk rock. Like the best popular music genre studies, One Chord Wonder provides a multi-dimensional analysis that situates punk within the music industry, as well as looking at punk’s performance, its audience and paying close attention to its musical forms and discourses."
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