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Dhanveer Singh Brar

May 6, 2022

Teklife, Ghettoville, Eski

The Sonic Ecologies of Black Music in the Early 21st Century

MIT Press 2021

Teklife, Ghettoville, Eski: The Sonic Ecologies of Black Music in the Early 21st Century (Goldsmiths Press, 2021) uses three Black electronic musics – footwork, grime, and the work of the producer Actress – to provide a theory of how Black musical experimentation has disrupted the circuits of racialized domination and exclusion in the 21st Century city. The book carefully attends to the unique ‘sonic ecologies’ produced by these three musical forms in South/West Chicago; East London and South London respectively, steering a course between uncritical celebration narratives of ‘resistant’ cultural production and dystopian analyses of urban decay.

Brar instead theorises these musics as forms of popular experimentalism which are not just inseparable from questions of space, race and class, but are productive of social and spatial relations. The book draws upon, and intervenes in, Black Studies literature to contribute a set of examples, questions and provocations that help readers to think about how the ‘Blackness of Black electronic dance music’ has produced (and continues to produce) a fugitive urban aesthetic sociality that has flourished in spite of the degradations of state and capital.

At the end of the interview, Dhanveer recommended some music as good entry points into the three musical worlds that we discuss and that he analyses in the book:

Gummo Clare is a PhD researcher in the School of Media and Communications, University of Leeds.

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