Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large

Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large

by C. Cooper
     
 
Megawattage sound systems have blasted the electronically-enhanced riddims and tongue-twisting lyrics of Jamaica's dancehall DJs across the globe. This high-energy raggamuffin music is often dismissed by old-school roots reggae fans as a raucous degeneration of classic Jamaican popular music. In this provocative study of dancehall culture, Cooper offers a sympathetic

Overview

Megawattage sound systems have blasted the electronically-enhanced riddims and tongue-twisting lyrics of Jamaica's dancehall DJs across the globe. This high-energy raggamuffin music is often dismissed by old-school roots reggae fans as a raucous degeneration of classic Jamaican popular music. In this provocative study of dancehall culture, Cooper offers a sympathetic account of the philosophy of a wide range of dancehall DJs: Shabba Ranks, Lady Saw, Ninjaman, Capleton, Buju Banton, Anthony B and Apache Indian. Cooper also demonstrates the ways in which the language of dancehall culture, often devalued as mere 'noise,' articulates a complex understanding of the border clashes which characterize Jamaican society, and analyzes the sound clashes that erupt in the movement of Jamaican dancehall culture across national borders.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

'Cooper makes compelling - and as usual - controversial arguments about the fundamental relevance of dancehall music to the critical understanding of Jamaican culture to claat.' - Colin Channer, author of Satisfy my Soul and Waiting in Vain

Publishers Weekly
Although Jamaican dance-hall music exists as a subculture in the U.S., its rhythms, its outrageous and funky performances and its brash DJs rule much of the musical culture in Jamaica. As Cooper demonstrates in this largely academic study, dance-hall culture resembles in many ways the hip-hop culture of America. Braggadocio DJs engage in sound clashes, trying to outdo each other in their battle for the supremacy of the dance hall. From a close reading of the lyrics, she argues that dance-hall music and culture is also largely political, giving voice to the oppressed as they struggle to maintain their humanity in situations of economic injustice. She also contends that while the lyrics are often misogynistic, they also celebrate and worship the female, permitting women a measure of liberation. Dance-hall culture, she observes, also allows women to play out roles they may not have available to them in ordinary life. Cooper devotes so much space to responding to critics of her first book, Noises in the Blood, that it detracts from her main purpose in this book. While Cooper's study opens a window onto a fascinating culture, her academic tone ("arguing transgressively for the freedom of women to claim a self-pleasuring sexual identity that may even be explicitly homoerotic") probably will prevent this book from introducing dance-hall culture to a larger audience. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781403964250
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date:
10/12/2004
Edition description:
2004
Pages:
348
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.05(d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn Cooper is a professor at the University of the West Indies. She is the author of Noises in the Blood: Orality, Gender, and the 'Vulgar' Body of Jamaican Popular Culture.

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