linkthink re: hip-hop, reggae, the US, jamaica, and anything else wayne wants to wax on


hearing hip-hop's jamaican accent

is the name of the talk that i'm giving this weekend at an NYU conference called music, performance, and racial imaginations. i'll be attempting to chart, somewhat suggestively given the limited time, the shifting relationship between jamaican-ness and blackness in new york from 1970-2000. i'll be trying to answer such questions as: how do folk go from "throwing jamaicans in garbage cans" in the early 70s (see jeff's book) to embracing krs-one's patois-infused claim of borough dominance by '87? how does mos def's disavowal of the king's english by '99, and his embrace of anglo- and latin-caribbean language, demonstrate yet more change in the cultural boundaries (and native tongues) of the bronx and brooklyn? when does a jamaican accent lose its liability for borough dwellers and performers? why? what insight might this trajectory give us into the meanings of race, ethnicity, and nation?

encouraged by the conference organizers to do something 'performative' and in order to play further with the nexus of music, performance, and racial imaginations, i will conclude the paper with a bit of boston jerk. i'm curious about how my performance might provoke people's 'racial imaginations' as well as how it will shed light on some of the issues i raise in the paper proper. (we'll see how rapping goes over with a group of academics at 9:30am, though.)

if you're in the new york area, come on out. should be interesting. and if it's not, you can always skip over the hot 97 protest in union square on friday afternoon. (i plan to.)


Blogger ripley said...

In related discussions, dissensus has a huge thread on Lady Sovereign, with much discussion of her "jafakin" accent. young white woman, "grime", authenticity, yada yada.

Grime is UK hip-hop analog in a lot of ways. some good points (and silly ones) made there. Of course the significance of a jamaican accent is very different in England..

10:42 AM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

there's quite the convo going on about jafakin accents here, too:

i'm not sure self-reflectiveness is a completely effective defense, but i like to think that it changes the grounds of the debate somehow, bringing it out of the realm of the 'natural.'

and ray ray ray...

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the best point raised in the versionist discussion is that of the relationship between colonial history and Jamaica. It's a completely different thing for a white guy from England to chat in patwa than it is for a Japanese fellow in Mighty Crown.

8:47 AM  
Blogger wayne&wax said...

as i said, "it's all relative, you see me?"

of course, plenty of people criticize mighty crown as appropriators, too. not sure what will ever make such cultural transgressions acceptable, save for economic/political/social justice.

also, it's important to recognize that some folks--like me--employ patois and reggae style more generally to make a sort of critical intervention, one that recognizes self-consciously that such moves can be perceived as exploitative while attempting to challenge the structures/discourses/ideologies that maintain an essentially unjust system.

for performers to lack a degree of self-reflection about the components of their style, and not to address such in their music, seems to me to be a serious problem.

9:14 AM  

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