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Nelson George

Teoksen Hip Hop America tekijä

34+ teosta 1,193 jäsentä 49 arvostelua

Tietoja tekijästä

Nelson George is the author of several non-fiction books, including "The Death of Rhythm & Blues" & "Hip Hop America", both nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, & three novels, "One Woman Short", "Seduced", & the "Essence" Blackboard bestseller "Urban Romance". An award-winning näytä lisää journalist, he is also an accomplished screenwriter (including "Strictly Business" & "CB-4") & an Emmy Award-winning producer of HBO's "The Chris Rock Show". He lives in Brooklyn, New York. (Bowker Author Biography) näytä vähemmän

(eng) Nelson George and George Nelson are two different names, please do not combine.


Tekijän teokset

Hip Hop America (1998) 260 kappaletta
The Death of Rhythm and Blues (1988) 158 kappaletta
Urban Romance (1994) 35 kappaletta
The Plot Against Hip Hop: A Novel (2011) 29 kappaletta
One Woman Short : A Novel (2000) 29 kappaletta
Seduced (1996) 25 kappaletta

Associated Works

Brooklyn Noir (2004) — Avustaja — 202 kappaletta
Lit Riffs (2004) — Avustaja — 167 kappaletta
Black on White: Black Writers on What It Means to Be White (1998) — Avustaja — 119 kappaletta
Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America (1995) — Avustaja — 91 kappaletta
The Perfect Crime (2022) — Avustaja — 39 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla


Nelson George and George Nelson are two different names, please do not combine.



Rhythm and Blues music and jazz share the same roots and were virtually indistinguishable in the early 20th century, when dance bands became a prominent part of the entertainment world. The word “jazz” was first popularized (not always in a favorable light) by white commentators, few of whom had any knowledge or understanding of the origins of the music. According to Nelson George in The Death of Rhythm and Blues, the appropriation of black musical forms confused styles and divided the black audience. Publicists for jazz steered it toward big-band orchestral arrangements and presentation, while the bluesier, grittier music was played for enthusiastic audiences away from the ballrooms. George agrees with Amiri Baraka that the growth of a middle class divided musical tastes in the black community—between the assimilated musical styles preferred by integrationist black elites, and the more working-class, grass-roots sounds heard in black neighborhoods and on so-called ‘race’ records (the term embraced as a point of pride, according to Albert Murray, and misunderstood by white critics).

Before the mid-1940s, says George, the grittier, bluesier music embraced in black communities across the country was seldom played on radio or heard on records, but the decline of big bands during WWII, the evolution of improvised music, and rural electrification enabled Rhythm and Blues to become the dominant dance music of postwar America. The development of Bebop—the complex rhythms and harmonies of the music better suited for listening than dancing—had signaled a shift in the relationship between the audience and those jazz musicians who aspired to be seen as more than mere entertainers. General black tastes tended toward jump blues, ballads, gospel, and big-voiced singers fronting dance orchestras, spurring the emergence of new, independent record labels (most headquartered in Los Angeles) and radio stations playing blues, gospel and jazz. In 1949, Billboard changed the heading of its black popular-music retail-sales chart from “Race” to “Rhythm and Blues.”

The discovery of a black market for popular music enabled black entrepreneurs to form businesses and to profit from black creativity. Record labels, radio stations, retail stores, and live shows made up a whole ‘rhythm and blues world,’ writes George, which in turn provided a model ‘for balancing black capitalism with the realities of a white-dominated society.’ The Chitlin’ Circuit was one manifestation of the R & B world, but residents of black neighborhoods around the country spent money in local record shops and danced in local nightclubs and heard the community news from flamboyant DJs on local radio stations. In George’s telling, the business of the R & B world and black consumerism coincided with the post-WWII self-awareness and black solidarity of a New Negro (echoes of the Harlem Renaissance) ‘pushing against the barricades of racism.’

One of George’s key themes is how cultural integration has had negative consequences for the black community. Over the course of the 20th c., the marketing of black music to white audiences diluted the power and the meaning of the music for blacks (Alain Locke made a similar point in the 1930s), and stymied efforts at economic self-sufficiency. In the 1950s, white DJs began imitating black DJs, and publicists began to market a diluted version of R & B as ‘rock ‘n’ roll,’ so as to dull the racial connotations and make young white consumers more comfortable. By the 1960s, writes George, the link between rock ‘n’ roll and its original black audience had been broken (even as the Beatles and the Beach Boys were ripping off Little Richard and Chuck Berry), and rock became ‘white music made by white people.’

After the 1950s, black popular music moved in a different direction. Rhythm & Blues evolved into Soul, and black cultural and political forms grew more assertive. James Brown demonstrated the possibilities for artistic and economic freedom that black music could provide, says George, and became a symbol of black self-determination. The musical elements that first came to the fore in jazz music surfaced again in black popular music. Brown used horns, guitars and keyboards as percussive instruments, and built grooves around blasts of brass and reeds. Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder expanded the harmonic language of R & B with jazz chords, and the sophisticated horn charts and polyrhythmic arrangements of Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, and Earth Wind & Fire narrowed the gap between R & B/Soul and jazz-based players. (With his focus on Rhythm and Blues music as distinct from jazz, George mostly ignores the leaps across the line represented by hard bop and soul jazz, though he is careful to differentiate between Miles Davis’ electric band and the blander forms of fusion).

The rhythm and blues world of independent record labels, radio stations, concert venues, and neighborhood retail stores was a testament to black creativity and initiative, and all the more an accomplishment given the array of obstacles and forces that undermined black self-reliance. Preston Lauterbach writes about how racial integration, municipal ‘morality campaigns,’ and federal housing programs dismantled flourishing black neighborhoods and vibrant commercial districts. White syndicates and conglomerates absorbed profitable black enterprises; aggressive policing aimed at “corruption and crime-fighting” closed down thriving entertainment quarters (Storyville, Central Avenue, 52nd Street); “urban renewal” replaced functioning neighborhoods with high-rise public housing and freeway interchanges. The cumulative effect of such ‘reforms’ was to undercut a thriving black entertainment environment.

For Nelson George, the erosion of business infrastructure was only part of the reason for the demise of the rhythm and blues world. Black attitudes also played a role. For many, the struggle for equality and integration made the modifying adjective black unnecessary. In the music world, the sale of black hits to a white audience—and the attendant profits—became a powerful lure. The ‘crossover mentality,’ as George calls it, came to dominate the way the business of black music was conducted. The appeal of black music to white audiences pushed black records on to pop radio. Black radio largely rejected the pop efforts of black artists, while R & B veterans were segregated on black radio. Younger, upscale record buyers did not identify with the older artists, and black record executives came to see the older acts—with their ‘processed hair, white suits and chitlin’ circuit ideas’—as relics from the past. When the major record labels began signing black artists, the smaller labels lost performers, writers and administrative personnel. According to George, economic integration and middle-class aspirations changed the tastes of black Americans and undercut the commercial strength of the rhythm and blues world. Blacks failed to develop a strategy of self-sufficiency, the crossover attitude fragmented the market for black radio and record labels, and mom and pop record stores and black concert promoters began to disappear.

Black America’s assimilationist obsession is leading it straight toward cultural suicide…racial pride is as worthy a goal as equality under the law…the challenge facing black artists, producers, radio programmers and entrepreneurs is to free themselves from the comforts of crossover, to recapture racial identity and to fight for the right to exist on their own terms…

Writing in the 1980s, George sounds pessimistic, but anyone who lived through pop-jazz and disco would have been in a sour mood. The Death of Rhythm and Blues includes a few pages on rap and hip hop, but no suggestion of the cultural power that those forms would achieve over the next thirty years. The Hip Hop World seems bigger and richer than the Rhythm and Blues World ever was (and there must be an ever-expanding bibliography on the significance and meaning of that development), and there, in the shade off to one side, spins the Jazz Planet.
… (lisätietoja)
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JazzBookJournal | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 4, 2022 |
Brisk slight read that really comes down to demographics. Are the 70s and 80s in New York fascinating to you? The birth of hip-hop and the mid 90s Back Arts movement. For me, yes yes and more yes. So I loved City Kid.

You may not care. This is a book with a choir it preaches to. I am in that choir. But there are moments--about families, maturity and growing up--that are transcendant, that remind me of Colson Whitehead's "Sag Harbor" which I loved even though I'm not black and from New York. And that's why I'd recommend it, even if you're standing outside this church, wondering about the shouts of joy inside.… (lisätietoja)
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Smokler | Jan 3, 2021 |
The author is at his best when he describes the culture of hip hop and the personal experiences of being a Black man in America. The plot and characters, on the other hand, feel disjointed. This book is set in the recent past (2017), and I appreciate the author's unique spin on current events. For example: "What Trump shared with the hip hop moguls was they were all outerborough kids obsessed with Manhattan props. Trump wanted mad fame so much he splashed his name on every surface he owned, like a graffiti tagger using gold block letters...Trump deserved a special place in hell for combining rap aesthetics with racism."… (lisätietoja)
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librarianarpita | 16 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 30, 2020 |
Tämä arvostelu kirjoitettiin LibraryThingin Varhaisia arvostelijoita varten.
The Darkest Hearts by Nelson George is the kind of book you have to read after you have read the prior books in the series. This book is a slow mystery that contains nothing different from the other mystery books i have read: death and gun boys and dark corners. That is not to say that it not an interesting read. I like now it has up to date references in music and i can relate to the language, or slang, they speak. I wanted to see if i could get into a book without having read the prior books in a series. this proves my point that it is not so easy. The book is definitely worth a second go over once i have read the books before it. And the plan is to read all the books in the D Hunter series. Then maybe it will be a smoother transition from book to book.… (lisätietoja)
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aiysha | 16 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 13, 2020 |



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