Interview in Music Journalism Insider

I first worked with Todd Burns back in 2013 when he commissioned me to write a “loop history” of one of my fave loops of all time: dembow. Of course, RBMA is no more, nor are various other outlets for music writers. In the light of this changing and precarious landscape, Todd has been devoting […]

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Sunday Review: Funky Kingston

Pitchfork’s Sunday Review is a weekly forum where writers revisit a “significant album from the past” that has not been reviewed at Pitchfork before. As someone who really enjoys reading these deep dives, it was a thrill to be invited to contribute one of my own — and one that focused on a classic reggae […]

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Social Dance in the Age of (Anti-)Social Media

A few years ago I started teaching a class at Berklee called “DJ Cultures and American Social Dance.” We survey the history of social dance across the Americas, with particular attention to the era of DJing, but we try to place that cultural turn within the long-view of how dance has functioned in different societies, […]

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Why 7 Rings Rings So Many Bells

This month’s New York magazine features a set of articles about popular music today and why questions of plagiarism seem to dog so many hit songs. I was happy to contribute an article teasing out the controversies around Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” by taking a musicological deep-dive into the disputed musical figure in question, a […]

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Ich kann ein bisschen Reggaeton verstehen

ila, a German magazine devoted to Latin America published a special issue on reggaeton this summer, including an interview with yours truly. If you kann ein bisschen Duetsch lesen (like those of us who studied vergleichende Musikwissenschaft in graduate school), then you can click on that link in the last sentence and read it there. […]

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Listening to the Sound of Culture

Last summer I was invited by Small Axe, a journal I have long wanted to write for, to take part in a book discussion of Louis Chude-Sokei’s engrossing, ambitious The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics. I’ve enjoyed Chude-Sokei’s perspectives on dancehall, Nigerian 419 scammers, and Bert Williams for years, and I was already […]

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Get on the Good Foot

The following piece was published in December 2016 in The Wire‘s special issue, Spirits Rejoice: Sacred Songs, Divine Drones, and Ritual Rhythms (#394). I was excited by the call for pitches because I’ve been connecting lots of dots in my music history courses at Berklee between sacred and secular traditions, and I’ve become more and […]

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Música Negra to Pop Reggaeton

I think the jury’s still out on whether the so-called “Despacito effect” will translate into a sustained presence of Spanish-language hits in the Hot 100, in regular radio rotation, on top-level pop playlists (and not just reggaeton / Latin ones), and so forth. I’m sure the “YouTube factor” will continue to make these decisions increasingly […]

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Welcome (African?) Wizardry

I’m a little late sharing the good news of the John Wizards, a producer-singer duo from South Africa who put together my favorite recording of this year. But given that even some of my most musically voracious friends have still not heard them, I’m clearly not too late. So let me put it like this: […]

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Thank You, Dr. King! (No Thanks, CPS)

Our 5yo brought this home from school this month. I don’t know where to begin. I mean, obviously the last one takes the cake, but I’m also tickled by the first choice students are given: an airplaine vs. a picture of Martin Luther King talking. Hmmm, which one? Admittedly, I’m finding it tricky to introduce […]

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I’m Not a Harvard Man, I’m a Harvard, Man

I’m very pleased to report that I’ll be teaching full-time in the Music Department at Harvard this year, filling the big shoes of two ethnomusicolleagues on leave, Ingrid Monson & Richard Wolf. This is an honor and a pleasure, and even as a one-year non-renewable gig, it sure beats the adjunct beat I was walking […]

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The Origin Story Is Genius Tho…

There’s an archived video of the panel I moderated last week during the Together fest. It begins with a six minute opening from me, then I introduce my esteemed co-panelists — Boima, Poirier, Ripley, Max, and Jesse — and we finally REALLY get into the convo about 10 minutes in. From there it’s a solid […]

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Google Glance: “Beauty”

h/t Ferrari Shepherd, aka @stopbeingfamous— When I tried, I saw this — What do you see? (It changes all the time, and then again, it doesn’t.) For more Google Glances, see here.

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Chombo Chursday b/w Paki Chulo

Check it out, my micropublic: I’ve got another “Throwback Thursdays” post over at Okayplayer’s LargeUp blog. This time I’m waxing nostalgic about a song produced by none other than El Chombo — Incluye el tema… Veteran readers of W&W may remember El Chombo as the producer of the notorious “Chacarron,” a song which — back […]

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Is “Africa” “Actually” African?

Africa Is a Country, a wry but passionate blog devoted to “Africa” — the idea, not (simply) the song — in contemporary media (but “not about famine, Bono, or Barack Obama”) has been threatening to make a weekly series out of the genuinely remarkable resonance of Toto’s 1982 soft-rock anthem. It’s a begrudging tribute of […]

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Very African and Very Modern

As if there weren’t already enough to tease out about Konono N°1 and Congotronics, a recent article in the Guardian points to a song and video called “Karibu Ya Bintou” by Baloji, a Congo-born rapper who cut his teeth on the Belgian hip-hop scene but who has worked over the last few years to return […]

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Spectacular Copulative Writing

Allow me to point you over to Norient.com, where I’ve just contributed an article that attempts a brief history of perreo and other “spectacular copulative” dances, including a glance at such recent instantiations as daggering, perreo chacalonero, and of course, choque. Longtime readers know I’ve been working to develop an analysis of such practices — […]

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Talking Music & Media, Whirled & Jamaican, Self & Other

A couple items to share, pardon the self-centeredness, but hey, this is a blog, right? First, hot off the virtual presses: Radio Berkman has just posted a snappily edited podcast featuring yours truly in conversation with the one and only Ethan Zuckerman about world/whirled music, globalghettotech, jerkbow, tribal, moombahton, and platform politricks, among other things. […]

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Best African Dance Ever

So, yeah. There’s rearing; and then there’s rearing — Slightly older kids, well enculturated & irrepressibly motivated, can tend to take things to the next level, bumping body parts with acrobatic abandon and lighting rooftops (and laptops) on fire — Devotees of dancehall reggae and reggaeton will no doubt recognize elements of perreo and daggering […]

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