Wednesday, April 16, 2003

i am writing a dissertation for a phd in ethnomusicology ... on the interplay between hip-hop, or rap, and dancehall.... i am proposing a critical history and contemporary aesthetics of hip-hop as a transnational music. specifically, i am focusing on jamaica's relationship to the music, from its origins in the founding figure of dj kool herc (i.e., clive campbell, a jamaican immigrant to the Bronx in the late 60s), through decades of constant interplay, to today's current moment of greater fluidity than ever.... i am seeking to decenter the concept of a "hip-hop culture" that is too often represented as a stable, and usually exclusive, whole. by exposing a bit of the messiness of cultural and musical workings, i hope to shed light on the constructed and contingent way that we make meaning, and to show the power of music not only to express but to inform who we are, our epistemology and ontology, which is to say, the way we come to know the world and our sense of being in it. as you can see, i tend to slip into fairly academic language when i get into this subject.

--So explains Wayne Marshall, a Harvard grad student living temporarily in Jamaica with his partner Rebecca Nesson, doing research & running a volunteer project in Kingston schools. Wayne & Rebecca are keeping a joint blog, recording their six-month sojourn--a frequently fascinating view of Jamaica from the perspective of outsiders trying to fit in ("better believe soon as i can say, 'me nah tourist,' convincingly enough, i will"), with the occasional attempt to comprehend local politics.

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