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.)