Sound Clash / Edition 1

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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 dissed by old-school roots reggae fans as a raucous degeneration of classic Jamaican popular music. In this provocative study of dancehall culture Carolyn Cooper, Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, offers a sympathetic account of the philosophy of a wide range of dancehall DJs: Shabba Ranks, Lady Saw, Ninjaman, Capleton, Buju Banton, Anthony B, Apache Indian. She demonstrates the ways in which the language of dancehall culture, often devalued as mere 'noise,' articulates a complex understanding of the border clashes that characterise Jamaican society. Cooper also analyses the sound clashes that erupt in the movement of Jamaican dancehall culture across national borders.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"'Chatty chatty mout' you better shut up. With Sound Clash, Carolyn Cooper has rescued the debate about the importance of dancehall music from know-it-alls and know-nothings. With insight, humor, and an elastic intelligence that ranges with assurance over what has become the tricky terrain of contemporary literary theory, 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

"At last, a book by a Jamaican that finally announces the powerful artistry and political force of artists like Shabba Ranks, Bounty Killer, Sizzla, Lady Saw, Capleton, and many of the dance-hall poets whose work has dominated the sound systems in Jamaica, the Caribbean and around the world."--Kwame Dawes, author of Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius

"Professing slackness, Carolyn Cooper invites us to take seriously the local, the indigenous subject, Jamaican nation language and the feminist values in the lyrics of Shabba Ranks and Lady Saw. She insists that we recognise the overall emancipatory possibilities of Jamaican Dancehall culture. A monumental work, Sound clash will make waves, huge waves that Oya, Oshun and Yemoja the female Gods of great waters, Patron Divinities of Global African cultures will certainly recognize as their own, and be proud of."--Oyeronke Oyewumi, author of The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses

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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403964243
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (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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Table of Contents

Introduction: Word, Sound & Power
Border Clash: Sites of Contestation
Slackness Personified: Representations of Female Sexuality in the Lyrics of Bob Marley and Shabba Ranks
Lady Saw Cuts Loose: Female Fertility Rituals in the Dancehall
'Mama, is That You?': Erotic Disguise in the Films Dancehall Queen and Babymother
'Lyrical Gun': Metaphor and Role-Play in Dancehall Culture
'More Fire': Chanting Down Babylon from Bob Marley to Capleton
'Vile Vocals': Exporting Jamaican Dancehall Lyrics to Barbados
Hip-Hopping Across Cultures: Reggae to Rap and Back
Mix up the Indian with all the Patwa: Rajamuffin Sounds in Cool Britannia
The Dancehall Transnation: Language, Literature and Global Jamaica

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