By Joshua Clover

ISBN-10: 0520252551

ISBN-13: 9780520252554

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Additional info for 1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About

Example text

This is the emergence traced in this chapter: not of a new genre, but of a change within a genre so substantial, with such cultural force, that it feels more unsettling than the simply new—as if the earth had suddenly reversed the direction of its spin. The shift can be glossed as that from the style of Nation of Millions to the style of Straight Outta Compton; or of East Coast to West Coast; or from soul samples typified by James Brown to funk beats exemplified by Parliament-Funkadelic. In such topsy-turvy moments, as one set of formal habits shatters and another begins to condense, a frontier feeling comes; the period is, among other things, an era of chaotic, dead-end stylistic inventiveness most familiar from the birth of genres.

There is yet a third current running through the disc, even more historically remote. “Something 2 Dance 2” and “Express Yourself ” were designed to move the dance floor, with considerable success (the latter is well remembered for Dre’s charming grammar-rock rhyme, “Blame it on Ice Cube because he said it gets / funky 40 t h e b o u r g eo is a n d t h e b o u l e va r d when you got a subject and a predicate”). ” 36 This makes the album a peculiarly elegant expression of Raymond Williams’s structure.

The Spectrum show was thus a chiasmus in the genre’s history. A. would replace Public Enemy as hip-hop’s cause célèbre. A. producer Dr. Dre’s solo album, The Chronic—a sequence that would shift the genre’s celestial mechanics and cultural imaginary to Los Angeles, eclipsing New York entirely. But this shift was not simply one of industrial geography, comparable to rock-centered pop music’s move from New York to the rising media capital of Los Angeles in the late sixties and early seventies. It also took part in a rejiggering of the popular representation of Black youth and the Black underclass in general, one with substantive problematic social implications and lineages.

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1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About by Joshua Clover


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