This essay is addressed to discrepancies between musical and political time. It uses the death of Hugh Masekela to consider the changing pattern of intergenerational relationships and the place of music within local and transnational freedom movements. The impact of technological change on the mediation of political solidarity is then examined through two principal examples: the elaboration of generic racial identity and the weaponization of culture and information by the alt-right and its fellow travelers.
In authentic historical analysis it is necessary at every point to recognize the complex interrelations between movements and tendencies both within and beyond a specific and effective dominance. It is necessary to examine how these relate to the whole cultural process rather than only to the selected and abstracted dominant system.—Raymond Williams
The term aftermaths in the title of this issue directs attention toward historical and political periodization, to consideration of the duration of events and uneventful interludes, and to the intergenerational relations that ensue once discrepant cohorts of political activists, formed in different conjunctures but motivated by the same goals, begin to interact. These issues become acute once history itself starts to rhyme. My concern with them below is framed by an interest in how the mentalities, structures of feeling, and styles of thought that characterize movements can endure; how viable formations are constituted, maintained, and culturally marked; and how, if possible, they are reproduced.
When conquerors and colonizers policed speech and made their world-bearing languages into instruments of domination, where literacy was foreclosed and illiteracy mandated by violence, exploring these questions issues required a broad and open understanding of culture that encompassed an extensive repertoire of communicative, (anti)aesthetic and representational tactics. The colonial and postcolonial history of struggles against racism and racial hierarchy includes numerous instances of literature's displacement by orature and the primacy of visual forms being replaced by auditory and sonic phenomena that bespeak different political ontologies.1
Those vectors are being superseded by new forms of technological mediation. The resulting complexity suggests that it might be worthwhile to think again about the place of music and “musicking” in the unfolding of political, social, and cultural movements in which the power of words, speech, and writing was supplemented and transformed by the dynamics of music, dance, and song.2 That archive currently exists in dispersed and fragmented form. It will have to be gathered and reworked so that it can serve the interests of the future. As technological change accelerates, and privatization and surveillance capitalism take tighter hold on our cultural habits, we need to foster a dialogue about these matters from which all parties, the older and the younger, might be able to benefit. What follows is intended as a small contribution to that possibility.
It has been difficult for critical theory to appreciate culture as a liquid, flowing phenomenon. Manifestations of political time, sound, and generation frequently arise in determinedly local forms. They are sticky, and their apparent fixity demands that we consider the character and extent of culture's reach as well as the boundaries created around any particular sense of the historical present. Those basic methodological commitments may require us to analyze the life of movements over longer periods than we are used to or feel comfortable with. We must also be prepared to address ourselves to the way that movements, like political parties, are subject to internal conflict. They split, and they can come to an end.3
In preparing this essay, I felt uncomfortable about speaking parochially in such cosmopolitan company, yet I could not see how, responsibly, I might do anything else but begin with immediate and familiar concerns. The distance between London, where these words were written, and Johannesburg, where they were first said aloud, is another disjunctive factor. South African politics is constantly present yet remote from my own immediate circumstances. Our wretched political predicament in Britain is entangled with the testing developments that have been unfolding here. We have, for example, recently been told that our country's suicidal vote against continued membership of the EU was financed, in part, from profits made in South African diamond mines owned by the self-styled “brex pistol”: Russophile plutocrat Arron Banks, who spent much of his childhood in South Africa.4
The outcome of the EU vote jolted Britain's antiracist organizations into a new historical period. The intense political work of the last forty or fifty years seemed to have been swept away by an incoming tide of alt-right/neofascist reaction tightly articulated to what I have previously called “postcolonial melancholia.” The dangerous residues of an apparently older, racist nationalism were revitalized and somehow rendered compatible with the insatiable appetite and relentless tempo of surveillance capitalism and its new economy of attention.5 What remains of the antiracist movement that had been built up between the 1950s and 1980s now exists mostly in fragmented, single-issue campaigns. Those initiatives focus on important problems: deaths in custody, decolonizing knowledge, supporting refugees and defending an ethic of hospitality. Their worthy labors lack a universalizing frame. They are often protected only by the insubstantial, corporate pieties of neoliberal diversity-speak, an idiom that merits its own proper name: “McKinsey multiculturalism.”
Small blocs of dissenting energy are ranged against the expensive, glittering Gramscian machinery of the alt-right, a loose, neofascist alliance that can be defined by its timely determination to approach political antagonism as located “downstream from culture.” Britain has had to reckon with the relentless operations of regressive modernization, but the popular resurgence of fascism and nativism there was largely unforeseen. The resurrection and revival of authoritarian, racist populism speaks, above all, to the appeal of the distinctive political temporalities implicit in the restorative fantasies of making the country great again, taking it back from the fainthearts who have failed to appreciate its character and destiny and the subversives who intend to destroy it. In that charged climate, the old, Nazi formulation “Cultural Marxism” has been shown to be something more than just a cryptic reference to Jewish subversion. It is a key component in the epoch-making reversal that has prescribed the alien attributes of a new enemy within. As those ghoulish forms take shape, and the anxieties they create are subject to hi-tech amplification, left and liberal opinion have been paralyzed and fractured. We face increasingly vicious confrontations with a nostalgic politics of white identity powerfully pronounced in a timely mix of anti-Muslim racism, ultranationalism, and ethnic absolutism. That blend is unevenly developed between and across domestic regions. It is more of an English than a Scottish or Irish problem. The anxieties it fosters have a peculiar political geography inside and beyond Europe's national states. The people who fear Blacks and Muslims most seldom come into contact with them.6
Opposition to the mounting gains of the ultra-right has been weakened by the fact that Black is no longer considered primarily as a political color signifying offline forms of solidarity or affiliation. Despite a lot of talk about intersections, that version of open identity has been fragmented beyond repair into a multiplicity of fortified ethnic enclaves and experiential and ontological “silos.” The language of Blackness is now often just a way to speak about or through African American culture in the seductive forms that have been exported worldwide as part of post–Cold War military and cultural diplomacy.
Our divided polity is staggering, dazed, rudderless, and uncomprehending, toward the brink of a low-intensity civil war that has, in a sense, already begun. That claim requires caution. Jo Cox, the Labour MP murdered by Thomas Mair, a member of the counter-jihad and racist organization Britain First can be regarded as one early, notable victim of the hostilities. There have been others. One of them, Makram Ali, was run over by Darren Osborne's van outside a community center in Finsbury Park. Osborne's trial showed him to have been radicalized and motivated to commit murder by the propaganda he absorbed through his late-night computer activity. His partner told the court that an “obsession” with Muslims had developed in the period immediately prior to the attack. Osborne had been affected in particular by a BBC drama documentary based upon the violent sexual abuse and exploitation of young white women in Rochdale by men of “Pakistani heritage.”7
The forces that incite this friction project it as a planetary phenomenon with catastrophic local consequences rooted in civilizational conflict. Its enthusiasts articulate it self-consciously as a variety of political to be enacted with a wealth of technological, libidinal, and psychosocial resources that its floundering opponents have barely begun to fathom. The recent philosophical contributions of Byung-Chul Han and the political anthropology elaborated in Angela Nagle's book Kill All Normies, are obvious exceptions to a pattern of critical-theoretical failure that, as Giorgio Agamben points out in Stasis, is compounded by an underdeveloped reckoning with the concept of civil war.
The alt-right's psychographic foot soldiers and information architects have stolen a march on us. Their self-appointed general, Steve Bannon, came to London and addressed a coterie of his European neofascist allies in a posh hotel. Their campaign to win freedom for the jailed English fascist leader Tommy Robinson saw antiracist demonstrators outnumbered forty-to-one on the streets of London under the carefully styled benedictions of the Dutch ultranationalist Geert Wilders. This lavish political theater was carefully choreographed for powerful projection online to legions of Fox News and InfoWars viewers in the furthest reaches of the United States, Scandinavian racists and counter-jihadis, and the growing fascist and ultranationalist groupings in Eastern Europe. These are the same political conditions and tactics that made the desperate plight of white farmers in South Africa into a hot political issue. Powerful general feelings of racial victimhood are condensed into their particular postcolonial vulnerability.
Similar processes are underway elsewhere. In Britain, what's left of the left, or what is imagined to supply the backbone of resistance to these rebranded post- and neofascisms is either disoriented or baffled, not least because its grasp of the strategic, cultural dimensions of this new kind of civil conflict is so tenuous. The antifascists and antiracists are being defeated. Undead racism, nationalism, and militarism have been disinterred and unleashed zombie-style to the obvious detriment of our ebbing democracy. Mystification and domination are, as usual, systematically enmeshed, but in this new media ecology merely obtaining reliable, detailed information about the balance of forces has become a burdensome and debilitating task.
Some elements of this historic defeat will probably be familiar to you from your own circumstances. That resonance underscores the value of a cosmopolitan dialogue about these developments. Perhaps that discussion can be enriched by an acknowledgment of South Africa's recent experience of the psychopolitics of “state capture” suffered at the well-remunerated hands of the now defunct English propaganda outfit, Bell Pottinger, and its corrupt, governmental sponsors in Britain and South Africa.8 With those new tools, capitalism's protectors, prelates, and disciples were able easily and profitably to disguise themselves as its gravediggers and critics. The history of the Bell Pottinger initiative illustrates some of the dangers that arise from computerized mediation of identity and the instrumentalization of political ontology, disseminated in corrosive, racial, and ultranationalist forms by the most unlikely of sponsors.
These developments connect directly to the psychopolitical tactics associated with the deployment of big data and the growing application of Artificial Intelligence—a combination that has appeared recently in several places, and not only in South Africa's carefully orchestrated online fight against the supposed dangers of “white monopoly capitalism.” A similar mix of actors and tactics guided the manipulation and simulation of Black nationalist and liberation organizations inside the United States. One group, BlackMattersUS, turned out to have been animated by a Russian “troll farm” and bots organized from one country but dispersed worldwide from the jurisdiction of a second one (Canada). The group has been connected to interests allied with private corporate bodies specializing in psychological warfare such as SCL Elections, Palantir Technologies, and Cambridge Analytica, the now moribund shell operation that influenced the EU vote so profoundly. BlackMattersUS seems to have been unusual only in that, alongside its vigorous online campaigning, it had also tried to organize offline against the perfidy of the woman its site referred to as “Himmlery Clinton.”9
Discussion of these changes in political culture will only be worthwhile if it succeeds in connecting them to the recent history of attempts to control electoral processes occurring outside the avowedly democratic institutions of the overdeveloped world. Some of those cases, in Kenya and elsewhere, suggest that the forms of solidarity historically associated with Black and racialized politics have been especially vulnerable to disabling viral interventions by their corporate and governmental opponents.10 We must be prepared to reflect upon why that should be so and on the related problem of how dis- and misinformation can spread rapidly across peer-to-peer networks and the infrastructure of the technological security complex.11
The work of the journalist Carole Cadwalladr is particularly relevant in this context. She has researched the criminal activity and corporate relationships surrounding Britain's vote to leave the EU. In one of her brave and important pieces, an injudicious interviewee conveys his understanding of the political and technological environment we inhabit. He draws attention to how the command of psychological operations now resides in privately controlled, parapolitical hands. These tools are described as
“the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It's what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds.’ We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don't have many rules.” Why would anyone want to intern with a psychological warfare firm, I ask him. And he looks at me like I am mad. “It was like working for MI6. Only it's MI6 for hire. It was very posh, very English, run by an old Etonian and you got to do some really cool things. Fly all over the world. You were working with the president of Kenya or Ghana or wherever. It's not like election campaigns in the West. You got to do all sorts of crazy shit.”12
Cadwalladr's stalwart investigations explain how, wherever it is deployed, the power of “predictive analytics” has been inseparable from the exponential growth of the alt-right, the alt-light, and an increasingly visible swarm of their fellow travelers. That online hive is a motley group overseen by the Twitter and YouTube savants of the so-called dark enlightenment. It is composed of accelerationists, militant free-speech activists, maninists, monomaniacal atheists, antifeminists, civilizationists, trolls, depressed basement-dwelling gamers, and eager ethno-nationalists striving to institute political communities that work according to the principles of what they call “human biodiversity.” That term is one of several bland code words used to convey the rebranded racism they cannot renounce because it is their trump card, but do not, as yet, wish to articulate either loudly or unambiguously. An anodyne alternative vocabulary has been devised primarily to deflect and evade the lingering force of accusations of Nazism. Its use betrays the appetite for secrecy associated with fascism's paranoid style. Here, it is combined with a ludic element to keep the alt in the alt-right by making its activities seem ironic, edgy, and transgressive. The inventory of affiliates given above is a useful, preliminary guide to the conceptual and political boundaries of this constellation which combines an organized movement with a more nebulous structure of feeling. Tracking its evolution generates a complex narrative which cannot be adequately grasped on the scale afforded by any solitary national state. The little we know about this assemblage requires us to consider time and entanglement from the standpoint of the virtual, instantaneous operation of digital technologies and also to explore the phenomenologies and juridical complexities that arise from monopolistic corporate control of social media, big data, and artificial intelligence. Oligarchy, plutocracy, kleptocracy are predictably both preconditions and results of this assemblage.
According to Byung-Chul Han, these technological resources are epochal because they have, for the first time, made it possible accurately to predict human behavior. The resulting changes mean “that the future is becoming calculable and controllable. Digital psychopolitics transforms the negativity of freely made decisions into the positivity of factual states (Sachverhalte) . . . persons are being positivized into things, which can be quantified, measured and steered.” As he continues in this frightening direction, Han develops an insight that has been familiar in the intellectual archives of the Black Atlantic world for a very long time: “No thing can be free,” he observes, “. . . but at the same time, things are more transparent than persons.” He concludes: “Big Data has announced the end of the person who possesses free will.”13
It bears emphasis that the unprecedented confluence of these varieties of power, war, technology, and strategy contributes to and draws upon the nihilistic appeal of accelerationism. That supposedly daring and dangerous response to the motion of capitalism has been endorsed by the reductive, mistaken, and sometimes idiotically appealing pseudo-insight generated on one side by the Instagram-friendly antics of Afro-pessimism and, on the other, by the opaque, Gallic non-philosophy of François Laruelle. Those tendencies provide the most obvious examples of the docility and resignation that is usually garnished these days with a meretricious filigree of sophistry.
No doubt scholastic practitioners of critical theory will deduce general lessons from these developments. They may even need to consider Britain's particular exposure to these forces, especially where they have become allied with a uniquely neoliberal enthusiasm for the ontological anchor that palingenetic ultranationalism provides for those who navigate the choppy waters of austerity: food banks, zero-hour contracts, and the deteriorating chances of making it into a comfortable life of indentured consumerism.
In the mid- to late 1970s, the world-making decades of antiracist work that I am—in a sense—mourning here, briefly became something like a properly Gramscian operation. Looking back, one important key to that unexpected success seems to have been the prominence of music both in protests against racism and repeated affirmations of the antiracist utopia brought closer by common musical experience. A movement, against the entangled racisms of the state and the street, was conducted in, through, and against cultural spaces lodged inside postcolonial Europe's most decadent political formations. New areas of conflict had been revealed and understood thanks to precious insights drawn from the tradition of critical theory that began with attempts to combine the insights of Marx and Freud (whose aversion to music was notorious) and to account for the seductive spectacle of earlier, fascinating fascisms.
Building on that legacy, a minority of marginal and insecure academics contributed innovatively to struggles over racism in British political culture. They were energized by the process of “decolonizing” European empires and inspired by the Black Liberation Movement in the United States. The conflicts in which those precarious intellectuals served as partisans of truth have been described as “racial,” but the narrowness of that designation is misguided. These battles seem to have been neither simply nor only about a thing called race. The idea of a long-term struggle against racism: structural and institutional, discursive and performative, may have supplied a shorthand means to identify and connect strategic confrontations, but it did not constitute their core. If that conflict was centered anywhere, it was on tenacious pursuit of equality both under existing law and beyond it. Political mobilization was directed toward the acquisition of human dignity and substantive rights that would be commonly held. The possibility that democracy might universally be enhanced as a result of those mobilizations was either overlooked or unspoken.
Most of the time, equality was defined as an absence of race-specific obstacles to institutional access and economic opportunity, but it also sometimes included adjacent issues like the introduction of legislation governing hate-speech and the right to unhindered movement without harassment or violence. It remains unfashionable to point this out, but those goals were frequently pursued in conjunction with the Labour movement, operating through local trades councils and antifascist committees as well as larger-scale coalitional vehicles like the Anti-Nazi League.
The most difficult and intractable problems appeared in and around the workings of the criminal justice system and in the representation of Black and minority ethnic peoples in the British media. They were visible not as token presenters of the weather or the local news—with occasional sports punditry provided by the Thatcherite pinup boys and girls thrown in to add the sparkle of diversity—but, as Enoch Powell had specified a few years earlier, as a pathological presence corroding the internal organs of national life to the point that the country was no longer even recognizable as the great, global power it had previously been.14 Before they did anything, Blacks, Asians, incomers, immigrants, aliens, asylum seekers, refugees, Muslims were always already the unwelcome measure of national decline. They were the proof of a departed greatness which would only be restorable after their removal or expulsion. “Go back to your own country” remains the favored motto of the hateful, impossible refusal to accommodate alterity which the media mainstream still finds absolutely fascinating.
Of course, how far the miserable citizens of “Lemmingland” have to travel back in time in order to recover feelings of cozy familiarity and an easy sense of being at home varies greatly. One thing is certain. Warfare always looms large in these retrocultural exercises. Most of the time, 1940 is a sufficient destination, at other points, 1914 or even the Falklands victory of 1982 appear preferable. The old, nonspecific requests for the restoration of national greatness that have recently proved they are still potent, derive from the Reaganite template of Margaret Thatcher's post-Falklands victory speech at the Cheltenham race course. For the minority of people still attached to the left's version of this melancholia, 1945, the epiphany of the welfare state, is the preferred destination.
The figure of Margaret Thatcher is important in this diegesis but, long before she blew restorative life into the basic Powellite configuration of Brit nativism, the philosopher Martin Barker had initiated discussions of what made the new racism novel. That ideological forerunner of civilizationism shifted the emphasis from biology to culture, fusing them into a single gestalt. It was superficially pluralistic and apparently devoid of simple hierarchy, yet it was also ethnically stern and culturally absolutist. Most important of all, secreted inside the carapace of an intensely anxious national culture was a harsh reordering of the world that was entirely consistent with the cruel exigencies of racial hierarchy in their crudest, nineteenth-century form.
That formation was only superficially addressed to the problems of post-imperial citizenship. Its authoritarian metaphysics of belonging contrived to be far more demotic. Barker did not identify its systematic aspects specifically as postcolonial phenomena, but his ground-breaking observations were tied to two other historical markers which, when taken together, identified an even more urgent political problem. The first was the rise of sociobiology associated in particular with the genetic reductionism and instrumentalism of Richard Dawkins and the forgotten figures who had inspired him, ethologists like Robert Ardrey and Desmond Morris. The inconsistencies and weaknesses in Dawkins's early book The Selfish Gene received an extended pounding at Barker's hands. He saw it as endorsing a resurgent instinctivism buttressed by a conception of natural community that dovetailed not only with timely imperatives of monetarist economics, but also with the politics of race and immigration in what we would now identify as a populist, xenological idiom. The second problem identified by Barker was the rise of neofascist and ultranationalist political movements that could instrumentalize these theoretical innovations and, though they were unable to use them as a springboard into government, could at least pressurize more respectable political forces to adopt the signature rhetoric and perspectives involved.
Barker's prescience should now be obvious. His work should be remembered and he should be thanked along with the others who extended the discussion. Before his monograph The New Racism was published in 1981, debate had been initiated in the pages of Radical Philosophy, in the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies volume The Empire Strikes Back, and in a special issue of Feminist Review on the theme of “Imperial Feminisms.” The conversation begun by Barker acknowledged but underestimated the emergent power of neoliberal economics. It pointed to a populist politics of racial and national culture, but it could not foresee the technological revolution that would foster new varieties of political and parapolitical ontology and transform the relationship between declining parties, volatile movements, and online mobilizations. It did not predict that permanent, inter-civilizational warfare would rise both from unresolved colonial history and from the neoimperial adventures which generated a massive movement of populations into Europe from the places affected by the forever wars of a planetary counterinsurgency. Nonetheless, there is much to be gained from returning to those old exchanges as part of asking where the boundaries of the current conjuncture might be placed.
Today the debate on the new racism appears symptomatic of the decline of the organized left and the fading of its dissident culture. It suggests a sequence of stages in the chronic crisis that still holds agonistically post-social Britain in its deadly grip. The growing potency of nationalism, now combined with nativist xenologies, confirms the enduring spectacle of racialized truths and ethnic conflicts usually represented as religious in origin if not in character. Merely cultural, post-secular Christianity was born not in Thatcher's well-publicized contempt for the idea of society but in her explicit and provocative profanation of the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan. He could, she insisted, only have helped a vulnerable person because he could afford it. The fact of his being a stranger dropped completely out of sight in favor of her focus on the wealth that enabled his act of charity and benevolence.
It bears repetition that the new racism was expressed consistently as a matter of culture. In response, a noisy, antiracist, and antinationalist movement held hands with the wild spirit of punk and interrupted Britain's political business as usual.15 It was organized, organically and unseen, under the noses of the most sophisticated, university-bound proponents of neo-Gramscian political analysis. Though the tenured remnants of the New Left never showed any inclination to contribute to this refiguration of political culture, for almost three decades the lingering effects of Rock Against Racism made it absurd and uncool to be a racist in Britain.16
That era is now over. Music and dance no longer play a pivotal role, but the old strategies are similar to the methods that are now being deployed by the alt-right/light. The antiracist movement of the mid- to late 1970s also understood the power and importance of culture, and it is worth remembering that the luminaries of the official left had failed to appreciate the importance of what was unfolding around them while it was actually happening. That discrepancy and the neglected history to which it points give the lie to the proposition that the ’68 generation contributed the final chapter to the twentieth-century story of British radicalism.17
Additional lessons can be extracted from this archive. They concern the inevitability of time lags, displacements, historical deficits, and feedback loops: all of which are important to the marked contrast of temporalities that, as Ernst Bloch argued long ago, almost defines the unfolding of fascist politics.
Not all people exist in the same Now. They do so only externally, by virtue of the fact that they may all be seen today. But that does not mean that they are living at the same time with others. Rather, they carry earlier things with them, things which are intricately involved. . . . One has one's times according to where one stands corporeally, above all in terms of classes. The ignorance of the white-collar worker as he searches for past levels of consciousness, transcendence in the past, increases to an orgiastic hatred of reason, to a “chthonism,” in which there are berserk people and images of the cross, in which indeed—with a nonsynchronism that verges on extraterritoriality—Negro drums rumble and central Africa rises up.18
Repeating Walter Benjamin's dialectical speculations about history as catastrophe will not get us very far in understanding the stubborn appeal of this archaism. Today's antiracist forces must respond to the tumult with a pursuit (and a defense) of slowness. The slower the rhythm of reflective time, the richer the dreams of freedom yet to come. Deceleration is required by any residual aspiration toward the new humanism that was glimpsed in the aftermath of the Second World War and elaborated further in response to the excessive cruelty evident in the wars of decolonization.19 A particular utopia was figured in the shadow of those events and of the nuclear exterminism they heralded. Its novelty can still be distinguished in an unyielding antipathy to racial orders, a reaction that was captured by Hannah Arendt: “No matter what the learned scientists may say, race is, politically speaking, not the beginning of humanity but its end, not the origin of peoples but their decay, not the natural birth of man but his unnatural death.”20
Turning now toward the role of music in making political movements move and the intergenerational patterns that result, I wonder whether it is significant that the joyless, resentful triumph of the apocalyptic populism and market fatalism signaled in the coup recently carried out in Britain lacked any distinctive musical signature.21 The right's bitter victory had no sonic counterpoint beyond a mélange of chanted football taunts diverted from the terraces and stadiums into the streets by the likes of the English Defence League, Britain First, and the Football Lads Alliance.
At the same time, the recent death of the great South African musician Hugh Masekela raises a host of other issues. His passing makes it imperative that any discussion of critical theory and political time conducted here in Johannesburg includes a grounded consideration of music's conspicuous political power. We must reflect on its altered contemporary significance, its empty ubiquity, and its fluctuating challenge to what is left of critical theory. In its engaged modes, does music retain its traditional place in affirming the universalizing spirit of “never again” while summoning the liberationist dreamscapes of the “not yet”?22
The contribution of music to the relative success of the Labour party in the 2016 election shows that the answer to this question is not straightforward. Labour's defeat was much closer to victory than had been anticipated, and the resulting hung parliament has been credited to an intervention made by youthful Black musicians who announced their affiliation to Jezza's brand of honest, compassionate, hair-shirt socialism by initiating the “Grime for Corbyn” organization. Though they cited Rock Against Racism as an historical precedent, music was not a core issue for Corbyn's young celebrity supporters. It was important only for its vestigial significance. If anything, the Grime MCs' five minutes in the mainstream spotlight confirmed a predictable and limited weaponization of their not quite underground celebrity.
Whoever they vote for, those influencers and role models consider themselves above all as creative entrepreneurs. They affirm a belief in justice that ties them to an older Ethiopianism while subscribing happily to the neoliberal freedoms that promise to put their dreams and future life chances firmly back into their own hands. Their enthusiasm for “personal branding,” like their appetite for a “me PLC” approach to the technologies of the free self, is a generational characteristic.23 It offsets the embrace of a deadly and unsustainable insecurity and makes the economically precarious especially vulnerable to the spurious appeal of racial certainties which they can discover in generic form amid the glittery, racial Americana projected by the multicultural wing of the military entertainment complex.
Those patterns of freedom and futurity are reminiscent of things familiar in South Africa. I remember being struck some years ago by the fact that almost everyone I met when I first arrived in Johannesburg offered me a business card announcing that they were a consultant. Looking back two decades, this seems like another instance of Britain evolving toward South Africa's historical and sociological conditions, another illustration of the ways in which progress has itself been altered as the mutual articulation of capitalism with democracy comes apart and heavily fortified overdevelopment tumbles downward to meet the developmentally arrested world on its slow, unsustainable ascent.
The whole world knows that South Africa is a place where music and song have played a unique and fundamental role in political life as well as in the elevation of local struggles to planetary significance—ethically as well as governmentally. That necessary acknowledgment initiates a ruthless assessment of how things currently stand. Presumably, Hugh Masekela's passing provides an opportunity to consider the balance of political and cultural forces on the ground.
Real-time music-making and the use of commodified musical products are not playfully and productively aligned with resistance, progress, and antiracist struggle in the way they were forty years ago. Nowadays, they are more likely to pull the polity apart by placing each listening subject in a headphone or automotive bubble infused with their personal playlist than they are to bind dissent together. The sonic aspects of political culture have been supplanted or corrupted by the dominance of visual forms and the technological changes that have enabled the erasure of the line between advertising and entertainment.
Music as organized sound confronts critical theory as a test of the limits and of the character of representation. It manifests the will of its creators, and, as I have already said, it has supplied a means to summon our utopias and, as Bloch and Said would have it, to bring that elusive “not yet” nearer so we can sample it and see whether it is, after all, what we desire. Organized sound has also supplied ways to create and share social, aesthetic, and somatic experience outside of the habits conventionally associated with merely political and material life. A younger generation of activists and writers has been more focused on how music sounds and makes them feel in political settings rather than on any discursive readings of musical texts and performances.24
The topos of this generational divergence is where the political ontology of cultural resistance and dissent once assumed irreducibly social form. It is also a proving ground for the idea that the “Black radical tradition” can be something more than an academic list of what Black radicals have written. Music has been a fundamental medium in the (meta)communicative ecology connecting Africa together and linking it to its diasporas. What Christopher Small called musicking has been an important host for the transmission, expression, and articulation of ideas and feelings, ethics and dispositions. Those transactions include open-ended inquiries, conducted in proximity to some of the world's most intractable racial orders and terrors, into what it is to be human, and not just what it is to be seen—recognized—as a human being.
I was fortunate to have attended Brother Hugh's extraordinary seventieth-birthday concert in Johannesburg. I was aware of his Black Atlantic life in exile long before that memorable encounter. I had heard early announcements of his distinctive musical presence, not so much in the closely regulated, official field of African American Jazz with a capital J, but within its unruly corona. The soundtrack of the counterculture included his contributions to pop music like the Byrds' “So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star” and his appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Masekela's landmark album Colonial Man—still painfully and symptomatically absent from the great warehouse of digital treasure—was especially important to me at the time of its release for the way it could fill and enthuse a dance floor. I will admit to a lingering attachment to the Afropolitan funk of its compelling follow-up release, The Boy's Doin’ It, which was created with musicians drawn from many African countries and traditions. I still enjoy even his later, electronic output, which seems, oddly, to have helped to build the worldwide appeal of subsequent developments like Afro-house as it embarked on its meandering path to global prominence.25
Masekela's errant involvement with the US Black Arts movement is a well-known but underappreciated strand of Black Atlantic life and lore. Fewer commentators acknowledge that his sometime music-school roommate, close friend, and collaborator, Stuart Levine (noted producer of the Crusaders and Minnie Riperton) was at his side during a creative partnership that covered several decades.26
Masekela's death raises issues about the conjoined history of music's changing place in South African political culture, the archives of Californian counterculture and the British anti-apartheid struggle. It also invites a number of important and difficult inquiries about the status of musical experience in the development of political consciousness and political solidarity during the Cold War and the decolonization struggles. The generation to which he belonged is dying out. The transnational, exilic formation of the dissident stratum to which he was affiliated, and the choices they made, might be helpful to the rising generation. But that generation will not necessarily be able or inclined to unlock the historical resources required to guide its own struggles from the heavily filtered and conspicuously incomplete lexicon of digital fragments that is increasingly and catastrophically imagined to comprise a complete historical record.
Additional problems arise from the different ways that generations hear, listen, and respond to music. The activists who were Masekela's peers, equivalents, and followers were not only South African. We find the same anticolonial mentality, the same dissident understanding of what politics and culture, music and activism, gain from being articulated together elsewhere in the annals of the Black Atlantic. Those sentiments were loudly audible in the Caribbean's Ethiopianist reggae and in the antiphonic responses offered back to its righteous calls by communities in Africa, Europe, the Pacific, Brazil, and other parts of the Americas.
The music of roots artists like Burning Spear, the Heptones, and Dennis Brown provides numerous examples of how, during the golden decade between 1971 and 1981, Jamaican musicians misappropriated the language of human rights and made it integral to their expansive, outernational projection of Rastafari livity as the transcendence of (i)niversal sufferation. The music of that period has had a long half-life, but it ceased to be fashionable ages ago—especially in the places from which it emerged. It is still remembered elsewhere, and those loving sentiments remain important in the residual phase of Ethiopianism. The combination of play, ritual, remembrance, and revolutionary hope we discover in that archive can still help us to respond persuasively to the narcissism and nihilism associated with Afro-pessimist refusals of politics. It can indicate a productive orientation from which we might discover replies to the hateful, paranoid pronouncements of the alt-right and accelerationism.27 Whether uttered in black- or whiteface, those phenomena can all be answered by resort to the traditional, oppositional practices of the enslaved and exploited: doing the minimum, slowing things down, increasing the friction, applying the brake.
Perhaps because he lived so conspicuously in the fast lane, all of this is only obliquely sanctioned in Masekela's mind-boggling autobiographical tale of genial debauchery and a painfully acquired, reflexive wisdom. The less savory aspects of his exiled life should not be allowed to obscure the map composed by its extraordinary trajectory or to mystify his entanglement with the anticolonial and Black Power movements then at large in the world. The arc of his life was premised upon unwavering commitments to political change and to acting in concert. They were punctuated and sometimes driven by exceptional and restless musical creativity. His personal connection to Louis Armstrong, who was the original source of his first trumpet, should be noted here in passing for the forms of planetary kinship that it suggests.
When we consider Masekela as an exemplar, we are obliged to face the fact that music is of diminishing significance even in the simulations of political movement and mobilization that are currently so popular in timeline media. The links between anticolonial activism, counterculture, exile, intoxication, political sensibilities, and pleasurable sounds remain important though music, now often wordless and usually produced on a computer, has assumed new configurations in response to the altered political economy of entertainment routinely organized through visual rather than auditory stimuli. Since digital access succeeded mechanical reproduction, and AI, big data, and surveillance capitalism began to forge and then dominate the attention economy, music has been relegated to the role of a soundtrack, commercially streamed to supply new underpinnings for faltering consumer capitalism.28
What we can call the hippie phase of Masekela's time in exile was entangled with the creative contributions of luminaries like Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, Miles Davis, James Brown, Letta Mbulu, Miriam Makeba, James Baldwin, Fela Kuti, Toni Morrison, Jayne Cortez, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Toni Cade Bambara, Roberta Flack, Bob Marley, and Amiri Baraka, who, incidentally, didn't much care for his music. Masekela's life connects the struggle against apartheid to the battle for civil and political rights inside the United States and to the pursuit of Black Power, Black dignity, Black autonomy, and a Black aesthetic there and elsewhere. His genre-stretching innovations remind us once again that jazz and the other US components of the African musical Gulf Stream cannot be adequately appreciated and salvaged within a nationalist frame or considered as if they are the fixed private property of only one world region or population. That long record of creativity, and the different publics with which it resonated, point to how local claims can be acknowledged and respected without either descending into ethnocentric postures or regressing into over-simple approaches to the problems of unstable, itinerant, and unruly political culture: how it lives, how it exists in relation, and how it travels—resisting reification, evading copyrights, and transcending every proprietary injunction.
Sometimes those claims will be difficult to reconcile, but the future quality of critical theory requires that we are open to identifying not just their entanglement, but the conflicts that will inevitably arise between them. Recovered as components of diasporic, heterological history, lives lived on Masekela's worldly scale can help us to adjudicate disputes and to articulate critical perspectives that correspond to the restless, creolized culture that grew and expanded through the Cold War years and has now itself been subjected to corporate capture and institutionalized debasement.
We will need better translations and interpretations that can minimize the damage arising from poor communication and divergent political and economic interests—especially when the needs of post-scarcity people in the overdeveloped countries conflict with the priorities set by others shut out from the logic of development and placed under the yoke of extractive, neoimperial power.
In death, Masekela was remembered, among other things, for insisting that song was “the literature of South Africa—it's the literature of most of southern and central Africa and West Africa, so everything is expressed a lot through songs. . . . No political rally ever happened in South Africa without singing being the main feature.”29
Something like the same idea appeared long ago in the modern cultural ecology of Africa's musical Gulf Stream. It is common to the histories of other indigenous and native peoples as well as to those of the enslaved and the colonized. It promises the possibility not just of placing music in the life of political and social movements or other cultural mobilizations—from the publication of William Wells Brown's Anti-Slavery Harp through to the civil rights songbooks and the dynamic place of music in the struggle against apartheid—but also the possibility of an active living or dwelling with music that is fully integrated into the habits and ethics of everyday life. By that, I do not mean the easy access to musical pleasure facilitated by your latest Spotify “playlist.” I mean the slow practice of becoming alert, first, to music's capacity to conjure with the possibility of acting in concert, and, second, to its inducements to cultivating a radical, deeper variety of attentiveness that has effects and applications outside of any musical setting. In other words, we can learn to listen once again as a prelude to becoming more present to one another. We can start to liberate music from its relegation to the role of a mobile, private soundtrack to shopping and narcissistic self-projection. Those difficult choices rely on recognizing music as endowed with the power to arrest and attenuate time, to modify temporality. For all his political conservatism and parochial focus on the acquisition of US citizenship, Ralph Ellison understood this.
One of the chief values of living with music lies in its power to give us an orientation in time. In doing so, it gives significance to all those indefinable aspects of experience which nevertheless help to make us what we are. In the swift whirl of time, music is a constant, reminding us of what we were and of that toward which we aspire. Art thou troubled? Music will not only calm, it will ennoble thee.30
A decade younger, James Baldwin's lowlier, more pointed observations about musical performance were directed at the succeeding generation, but they indicated equivalent possibilities. The nights he passed in Mikell's Manhattan club at Ninety-Seventh Street and Columbus, where his brother David worked behind the bar, were not wasted. Nor were mine. That special place, one lovingly cocooned vehicle drifting through the fertile cosmos of the Black Atlantic musical underground, was also frequented by Masekela. The extraordinary, creative outflow from its uptown conviviality helped confirm to me that the greatest musicians in all styles share a “shamanic” capacity to conduct and even suspend the flow of time.31 If the conditions are hospitable, they can open a rift in ordinary duration and, then invite their witnesses and allies-turned-collaborators and coworkers to inhabit fleeting presentiments of (e)utopia with them. A precious moment might be lived in common and, in that fleeting communion, a new time instantiated, altogether.
In The Long Revolution, Raymond Williams describes the formation of traditions through processes of selecting and re-selecting ancestors. In the evolving traditions of the Black Atlantic, the capacity to play with time was embraced as a grounding aesthetic practice along with an impulse to refine the tools that could accomplish time's subordination and, in that overcoming, to begin to build a system in which pleasure might be derived from the artful command of time's mutability. Baldwin articulated exactly that possibility with a great and useful clarity in one of his pointed meditations on the history of black music and the failure of critics adequately to come to terms with it: “Music is our witness, and our ally. The ‘beat’ is the confession which recognizes, changes, and conquers time. Then, history becomes a garment we can wear, and share, and not a cloak in which to hide; and time becomes a friend.”32
In this context, his observation solicits further inquiry into the conditions that might have made music into a witness and an ally, or that may have helped time itself to “become a friend.” In Baldwin's formulation, musical time (the beat) actually subdues historical time. Thus the friendly relationship with the passage of historical time that he seeks is preceded by its subordination to the beat. Music intervenes to transform the way we apprehend both duration and historicity. In these magical vernacular operations, history in its turn can acquire some of the properties of an object. For Baldwin, it is less a tool than a chosen sign or perhaps a prop in the larger historical drama of dissent, opposition, and freedom-seeking. And what about that beat being presented here as a confession?
Our musics have been much more than either allies or weapons. They have provided a precious means of healing and recovery, valuably promoted the distant possibility of “empathic repair,”33 and offered important therapeutic, hermeneutic, and aesthetic instruments. They have supplied mirrors as well as welcome lubrication for the evolving, sympoietic technologies of the free(d) self. Organized sound conjures with the material, cymatic prefiguration of the alternative worlds that are being summoned, can sometimes be rehearsed, and, occasionally, even shared.
Vibrations from these utopias may be registered—heard or felt—before they are seen, as they approach in the distance or come to us from around the corner. James Weldon Johnson, who was among the first to identify these sonic possibilities and invest them with distinctive aesthetic value, referred his readers to “that elusive undertone, the note in music which is not heard with the ears.”34
Out of respect for Black Atlantic tradition, it may help briefly to remind ourselves of the improvised “wild notes” described in Frederick Douglass's foundational observations on the phenomenology and philosophical axiology of sound in comparison to both text and music. He told his readers that “a silent slave was not liked either by masters or overseers. ‘Make a noise there! Make a noise there!’ and ‘bear a hand,’ were words usually addressed to slaves when they were silent.”35 The sounds that emerged to subdue and recompose those traumatic histories proved crucial to the larger processes of re-enchanting the human in which we have been reluctantly or enthusiastically engaged, particularly since Black Atlantic sounds began to dominate the planet's popular music and augment its errant cultures of freedom.
One significant strand of those entangled possibilities passes to us through the institutions of the auction block and the whipping post. That thread ran on via the global wanderings of the Jubilee Singers—which include an important South African chapter—and have come down to us today via iconic figures like Masekela, Fela Kuti, and their various Caribbean and Latin American interlocutors.
Another itinerant African American musician, the Hampton graduate Orpheus Myron Macadoo, can be placed in this cultural and sonic ecology. He visited Johannesburg in 1890, while touring South Africa with his own spinoff Jubilee choir, the Virginia Jubilee Singers, and made plenty of critical observations about the quality of life in the country:
There is no country in the world where prejudice is so strong as here in Africa. The native to-day is treated as badly as ever the slave was treated in Georgia. Here in Africa the native laws are most unjust; such as any Christian people would be ashamed of. Do you credit a law in a civilized community compelling every man of dark skin, even though he is a citizen of another country, to be in his house by 9 o'clock at night, or he is arrested? Before I could go into parts of Africa, I had to get out a passport and a special letter from the Governors and Presidents of the Transvaal and [the] Orange Free State, or we would have all been arrested. Black people who are seen out after 9 o'clock must have passes from their masters. Indeed, it is so strict that natives have to get passes for day travel. . . . I meet a few colored men, Americans, living here. One opened a business in Johanissburg [sic] and before he could open, he had to get a white man to allow him to use his name, because no Negro is allowed to have his own business. These laws exist in the Transvaal and [the] Orange Free States, which are governed by the Dutch, who place every living creature before native. I have so much good and bad to tell you about Africa, but I haven't the time. . . . Having to do my own business, I am kept busy, but [I] hope to send you a letter of some interest soon. We are doing well here and the Virginia Jubilee Singers are known throughout South Africa to-day.36
Shifting emphasis onto the making and use of music can generate a different history, historicity, and historicality. Music-centered perspectives accentuate the work of culture and refer us to the places where textuality, commodity, and signification all break down, where real-time, uncompressed, face-to-face performance takes wing in transfigurative collaborations between singers, musicians, dancers, and their participating audiences. That crossroads can be marked sacred, secular, or profane. Tidy distinctions between precognitive and intentional human agency start to leak and decompose in its noisy penumbra. Speaking theoretically, in that gloom, the concept of affect starts to resemble a huge, clumsy club with nails in it rather than a scalpel.
Can I assume here that we are all familiar with some of these processes? The adagio that decelerates and directs us to the instructive power of entropy, the largo that defers resolution. The rests that are stretched by a pianist's artful use of the pedals. The compressed, infinite whine of glass or polished metal on steel or nickel strings. The trances that can be induced by time's willful, daring suspension. Even the most quotidian of sound-system rewinds can convey the institutionalization of pleasure released in the possibility of starting anew once the turntable's brake has been applied deftly or outrageously and the renewing potency of ritual intervention confirmed and communally shared. Joy undergirds these epiphanies of creole modernism. It is released in the cut's fragmentation of cursive, eschatological, and messianic time. The dance begins again with the glorious revelation that time and history are, momentarily, under unruly, popular control.
Though both involve temporal work, the mixing and versioning that characterize these kinds of play and pleasure are not in tune or time with the democratic and antagonistic relationships that we associate with skilled instrumental proceedings on the bandstand. They have diverged from the US traditions of jazz performance defined over half a century ago by Ellison and implicated in his pursuit of what he thought was Negro access to the higher ground of citizenship.
The contrast between those two kinds of time-play confirms that dance-floor/dance-hall time and bandstand or stage time need not coincide, especially where cooperation with instrumentalists has been refused in the name of ritual communion with recorded performances celebrated by MCs, DJs, and selectors who play with volume, frequency, and phase to tame the cymatic force of what has become recognizable as a bass culture functioning in ways that live musicians may not be able to match.37
The electric church, about which Hendrix spoke so eloquently, has acquired many mansions. To be blunt, I am suggesting that the cut and the break that have been occasional parts of its liturgy bespeak a different creative orientation from the mix and the re-mix which are now so essential to its common rituals. The latter stretch and suspend time. They could transform any short piece into a whole process of infinite duration, long before software like Serato and Ableton Live appeared to hollow out and de-skill that holy task. A different double consciousness began to arise from DJing with two copies of the same disc on twin turntables. Similarly, dub versioning played with time, inviting listeners and dancers into the music's depths in the Dantean descent that Ellison invested with transgressive meaning as the favored technology of the free(d) Black self, electrified by its impossible subjectivities, solidarities, and samenesses.
“Could it be that on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?” Well yes, Ralph. That very possibility has been developed systematically since you first launched your inquiries in 1952. It was audible in the affirmative poetics of Linton Kwesi Johnson's “Bass Culture” and in his musical collaborations with the Maestro Dennis Bovell, in the dub poetry of the murdered Jamaican poet Mikey Smith and his peers: Binta Breeze, Mutu and Oku. It is evident in the computer-based creativity of the junglists and the apostles of the Afropolitan beats that currently rule the dance floors of this planet and have, for the first time, shifted the center of musical innovation outside the borders of the United States, relocating it to Africa and the Nigeria/ZA axis.
It is not trivial to imagine that all these creative possibilities can still contribute to the ongoing assault on the temporal order of black suffering. The vibraphonist Roy Ayers, someone whose long career has given him a claim to the title of the most sampled artist in the history of music, released an album years ago with a sleeve note provided by his friend James Baldwin. The disc was named In the Dark, and it was in the dark that our half-hidden, joyful playtime has confronted the unremitting pressures of Black immiseration in the racial ordering of the world. That welcoming darkness is a setting where tradition has been re-specified through its adhesion to two profane and easily translatable propositions that I want to reacquaint you with in my conclusion. The first insists that the night time is the right time, while the second asserts that the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
Those sentimental propositions were supplemented by a humanistic question to which Baldwin's writing on music repeatedly gave compelling voice. It is the question that God had addressed to Ezekiel: “How can these bones live?” The same line of inquiry reappears in Senghor's secular identification of African socialism with “the concord of humanity and ‘creation’” that has been lodged at the heart of humanism. It is an assertion not of paranoia and pessimism, but of a transformative trust in life. This ongoing work, he tells us, “is done to the rhythm of the world: a rhythm that is not mechanical, that is free and alive, the rhythm of day and night, of the seasons, which number two in Africa, of the plant that grows and dies. And the Negro, feeling himself in unison with the universe, rhythmically orders his work through song and the tom-tom. Negro work, Negro rhythm, Negro joy that is freed through work and that is freed from work.”38 His words differ from diasporic destruction of binary pairings and insistence that the darkest hour is just before the dawn, but that is how Black life and critical theory have endured. The dawn is inevitable and a wide range of material, from Albert King's “Blues at Sunrise” to Fodéba Keïta's “African Dawn,” suggests that it has always represented the possibility of redemption and release. With the new dawn comes the possibility of a new humanism and a new humankind.
Lately, insomniac rationality has been trying to teach us that “sleep is for losers,” so I expect that my tentative plea for a reinstatement of daytime and nighttime will sound too sentimental and inappropriately naturalistic to the ears of Johannesburg's hip trans-humanists, futurists, Instagram warriors, and militant practitioners of hashtag solidarity. We must, of course, take care that this binary pair is not the foundation over which a Manichaean racial order might once again be erected.
The influential contemporary cult of the Anthropocene institutes the blank tempo of Charles Lyell's geological time—entirely independent of any perceptible, human reality.39 Instead of resignation to that deadly tempo, we may now turn the heightened attentiveness we have acquired through an active, living with, and being for music, toward the very breath of the world: the stuttering rhythm of the seasons, shifting patterns of animal migration phenologies, the relentless pulse of the seas from which our progenitors emerged. We become attentive to the things we learn and witness in encounters with undisturbed and recovering places, ancient trees, and the slowest temporal processes we can access.
These commitments are inevitably trivialized when they get reduced to the provisional, founding concepts of an entangled or ecological humanism. Nonetheless, they interest me now both as a historian of enlightenment's pathological attachment to race and as a seeker for alternative resources from which we might continue to improvise our dissidence and project our utopias. That “not-yet” conjures sustainable modes of being for each other outside of the belligerent, antisociality of consumer imperialism and inertia-inducing habituation to screen-centered, ethnic absolutism.
An earlier version of this essay was presented at a conference of the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs in Johannesburg, South Africa, in February 2018, shortly after the death of Hugh Masekela. The conference, “Entanglements and Aftermaths: Reflections on Memory and Political Time,” was hosted by the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) at the University of the Witwatersrand and brought together global reflections on critical memory.
The capitalization of the racial terms Black and white and derivations thereof in the article has been altered from the author's original text to conform to the established style guide of Critical Times.
Taub and Fisher, “Facebook Fueled Anti-refugee Attacks”; “Leave Campaigns Spending Investigations”; Müller and Schwarz, “Making America Hate Again?”; Kyriacou, “When Traditional Communications Outperform Digital Technology.”
The British left from Edward Thompson and Raymond Williams to the SWP answered the populist political appeal of English neofascism and ultranationalism with a sentimental nationalism centered, understandably, on the memory of the Second World War in which they had served. In the 1970s antifascism was energized by the old anti-Nazi myth of a plucky nation standing alone against barbarity. The struggle with the New Left figures who had fought in World War II was particularly bitter. Edward Thompson's silly enthusiasm for the jury's acquittal of BNP leader John Kingsley Read on a charge of inciting racial hatred was a revealing example. See Thompson's introduction to State Research's Review of Security and the State 1978, xviii. The work of Stuart Hall in this area suggests another approach to the politics of antiracism. See Hall, “Whites of Their Eyes.”
Noteworthy songs in this lineage include “Casablanca” by MZO Bullet (www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpgy2_hUy58); “Terminator” by DJ CNDO (www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKBulntPX7Q); “Taxi” by DJ Oskido (www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVurodv-4Fs); and “Bongi Dube” by Ngifuna Wena (www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f6OGvAoT4c). The playlist “Top House and Kwaito Songs 2017” is also useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7NX-bSGSfQ&list = PLTRKTsUqtjZxbEM5NOYI5hR7z_FqWAaGo.
Orpheus Myron Macadoo, Southern Workman, November 1890, 120, quoted in Wright, “Orpheus Myron McAdoo,” 322.
This is an allusion to Linton Kwesi Johnson's poem “Bass Culture,” which appears in his second collection of poems, Dread, Beat and Blood.