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Songs in the Key of Black Life : A Rhythm and Blues Nation - Mark Anthony Neal

Songs in the Key of Black Life

A Rhythm and Blues Nation

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In "Songs in the Key of Black Life," acclaimed cultural critic Mark Anthony Neal turns his attention to Rhythm and Blues. He argues that R&B-often dismissed as "just a bunch of love songs," yet the second most popular genre in terms of sales-can tell us much about the dynamic joys, apprehensions, tensions, and contradictions of contemporary black life, if we listen closely. With a voice as heartfelt and compelling as the best music, Neal guides us through the work of classic and contemporary artists ranging from Marvin Gaye to Macy Gray. In the first section of the book, "Rhythm," he uses the music of Meshell N'degeocello, Patti Labelle, Jill Scott, Alicia Keys, and others as guideposts to the major concerns of contemporary black life-issues such as gender, feminist politics, political activism, black masculinity, celebrity, and the fluidity of racial and sexual identity. The second part of the book, "Blues," uses the improvisational rhythms of black music as a metaphor to examine currents in black life including the public dispute between Cornel West and Harvard President Lawrence Summers and the firing of BET's talk-show host Tavis Smiley. "Songs in the Key of Black Life" is a remarkable contribution to the study of black popular music, and valuable reading for anyone interested in how race is lived in America.

"Neal avoids polemics on the lyrical banality of black music or the over-hyped, oversexed videos pervading Black Entertainment Television. He redefines the terrain by advancing a discussion of artists working and succeeding within--and along the boundaries of--the existing subgenres of black popular music."-"The Washington Post "Neal creates a dense, sensuous space for a critical cultured black perspective, what "Soul Babies called the 'post-soul aesthetic' in black America. He illustrates his thesis through use of black vernacular forms to produce a voice that is both streetwise and scholarly ....Neal may be the first writer capable of developing groundbreaking ideas in the academy and getting a new sticker on his 'ghetto pass' in one stroke."-"The Washington Post "Neal's vision is (as always) right on target, and he does analyze important subjects never heretofore treated in depth. Surely worthy of consideration by those academic libraries with a strong interest in contemporary black American cultural studies."-"Library Journal, June 15, 2003 "Reading this book is like sitting down to a plate of collard greens with chopped up onions and tomatoes and a little touch of wine vinegar. A mouth-watering piece of hot water corn bread. A lean mean piece of short rib. And you know it's only going to get better because there is a sumptuous banana pudding bringing up the rear . . . . Smack those lips. Rub them hands. Say the blessing and get ready to feast! Thank you Mark Anthony Neal. It is delicious and truly delectable."-Umar Bin Hassan, "The Last Poets: Selected Poems and a History of the Last Poets "Engaging, smart, and funny as hell, "Songs in the Key ofBlack Life leaves no soul unturned. His lyrical analyses range from Patti Labelle to Laura Nyro, Jill Scott to Jay Z, academia to black radio. You won't find many scholars with Neal's deep and abiding knowledge of contemporary blackpopular culture, and you won't find any able to throw down such head-noddin' prose."-Robin D. G. Kelley, author of "Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologuep. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Revolutionary Mix Tapep. 9
Grown-Ass Womenp. 23
Diggin' the Scene (with the Gangsta Lean)p. 43
Habermas in the Hoodp. 55
Oh My! (The Sexual Healing Interlude)p. 65
The E-Double and the Trouble Manp. 69
Bellbottoms, Bluebelles, and the Funky-Ass White Girlp. 79
Nuyorican Nostalgiap. 101
Some Otha Shitp. 117
And Blues
Radio Free Soulp. 137
Big Pimpin'p. 151
But It's Not a Rap CDp. 163
Three the Hard Wayp. 179
Notesp. 191
Indexp. 201
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780415965705
ISBN-10: 0415965705
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 214
Published: 16th May 2003
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.47 x 16.56  x 2.01
Weight (kg): 0.54
Edition Number: 1