African American Jazz and Rap

Social and Philosophical Examinations of Black Expressive Behavior

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About the Book

Music is an expressive voice of a culture, often more so than literature. While jazz and rap are musical genres popular among people of numerous racial and social backgrounds, they are truly important historically for their representation of and impact upon African American culture and traditions. Essays offer interdisciplinary study of jazz and rap as they relate to black culture in America. The essays are grouped under sections. One examines an Afrocentric approach to understanding jazz and rap; another, the history, culture, performers, instruments, and political role of jazz and rap. There are sections on the expressions of jazz in dance and literature; rap music as art, social commentary, and commodity; and the future. Each essay offers insight and thoughtful discourse on these popular musical styles and their roles within the black community and in American culture as a whole. References are included for each essay.

About the Author(s)

James L. Conyers, Jr., is a winner of the Cheikh Anta Diop Ankh Award for Distinguished Research in the Discipline of African American Studies. He is the director of the African American Studies Program and university professor of African American Studies at the University of Houston.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by James L. Conyers, Jr.

Foreword by James B. Stewart
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: diagrams, notes, references, index
Copyright Date: 2001
pISBN: 978-0-7864-0828-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-6238-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction (by James B. Stewart)      1

I. Toward an Afrocentric Approach to the Study of Jazz and Rap Music
1. Metatheory and Methodology: Appraising the Black Experience
James L. Conyers, Jr.      11
2. The Role of Criticism in Black Popular Culture
Warren C. Swindell      20

II. “All That Jazz”: History, Culture, Performers, Instruments, and Political Functionality
3. “And All That Jazz” Has African Roots!
Learthen Dorsey      35
4. Jazz Antecedents
Eddie S. Meadows      55
5. The Life and Jazz Style of Blue Mitchell
Charles I. Miller      62
6. Jazz Guitar: Ain’t No Jazz
George Walker and Mondo Eyen we Langa      77
7. The Social Roots of African American Music: 1950-1970
Thomas J. Porter      83
8. Jazz Musicians in Postwar Europe and Japan
Larry Ross      90

III. Jazz Expressions in Dance and Literature
9. African American Dance and Music
Samuel A. Floyd, Jr.      117
10. Lady Sings the Blues: Toni Morrison and the Jazz/Blues Aesthetic
Gloria T. Randle      131
11. Al Young: Jazz Griot
Michael Carroll      145

IV. Rap Music as Art Form, Social-Political Commentary, and Economic Commodity
12. The Rhythm of Rhyme: A Look at Rap Music as an Art Form from a Jazz Perspective
Reginald Thomas      163
13. At the Vanguard: African American Life as Seen Through the Music of Selected Rap and Jazz Artists
Andrew P. Smallwood      170
14. Africana Cosmology, Ethos, and Rap: A Social Study of Black Popular Culture
James L. Conyers, Jr.      180

V. Toward the Future: Educating Future Generations and Preserving Cultural Traditions
15. Can You Sing Jazz? Perception and Appreciation of Jazz Music Among African American Young Adults
Nancy J. Dawson      201
16. Hip-Hop and the Rap Music Industry
Tshombe Walker      211
17. Ethnomusicology and the African American Tradition
George L. Starks, Jr.      224
18. Reflections on Sterling Stuckey’s Slave Culture: Understanding Pan Afrikan Nationalism as a Cultural Force
Ahati N. N. Touré      239

About the Contributors      249
Index      251

Book Reviews & Awards

“provide[s] challenging and informative accounts of the amorphous musical culture called jazz”—Booklist.