Journal of World Popular Music, Vol 5, No 1 (2018)

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https://doi.org/10.1558/jwpm.36669

Simone Krüger Bridge, Nicholas Tochka and Raphaël Nowak

Editors’ Introduction



As we enter the fifth year in the existence of the Journal of World Popular Music, we are delighted to open our editorial introduction with a number of announcements. In 2013, we were conceiving of a journal with a specific focus on global pop to capture a new and distinctive niche in the market and address newer ethnomusicological research areas. The Journal of World Popular Music is in very good health and has developed rapidly into a sought-after site for scholarly discussion. During the four years of its existence, the journal became indexed in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, The Music Index, Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI)/Thomson Reuters, SCOPUS and ERIH PLUS, which is testament to the high-quality research and scholarship published in the journal, along with a thorough editorial procedure to ensure its rigour. In total, we have published eight well-received journal issues, with a growing number of new submissions each year and a healthy line-up of articles and special issues. Our subscription and readership base is strong too. Our journal is subscribed to by 30 institutions directly, while more than 3000 libraries worldwide have access to the Journal through Equinox’s license with EBSCO for its aggregated database of full-text music titles.

In 2013, we established an Editorial Advisory Board on which, over the past four years, many distinguished members of our fields have been kind enough to serve. The Editorial Advisory Board has helped immensely to establish the journal from the very start and grow it into a high-quality scholarly outlet for research around international pop. With enormous gratitude for the guidance that the board members have provided over the past four years, we have now renewed the Editorial Advisory Board with leading academics from all over the world and working across the fields of ethnomusicology, popular music studies, anthropology and sociology. We are extremely grateful to our new international board members for taking on this important and rewarding role. Their wide-ranging expertise and disciplinary allegiances will surely help our journal to continue to flourish and grow into the leading academic outlet for inter- and multidisciplinary work on global popular music.

Earlier this year, we appointed Nicholas Tochka as our new Reviews Editor to replace our Australian colleague Sarah Baker. Our warmest wishes and sincerest thanks go to Sarah, who will be missed after serving the journal for nearly five years. As we all know, however, Sarah’s prestigious positions at Griffiths University have meant that she now wishes to dedicate her time and efforts more fully to her senior management roles. Indeed, Sarah’s tireless contribution to the journal set high standards and we will strive to maintain the same quality of review publications as we follow in her footsteps. Reviews of books, CDs, DVDs, documentaries, podcasts, exhibitions and other academic, scholarly and creative outputs will henceforth be handled by Nicholas Tochka. As an ethnographer and historian of popular music in Europe and the Americas, Nick has broad interests in a range of musical styles and methodological approaches. His training was in the United States, his main area of field research has been in Europe, and he is the Head of Ethnomusicology at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne in Australia, thus drawing on academic networks from across three continents. Nick is an active member of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the American Musicological Society and the International Association for Popular Music. We welcome Nick to the editorial team and look forward to him bringing his expertise in all matters related to world popular music.

In 2018, JWPM will feature a double special issue on global hip hop, guest-edited by Adam Haupt, Quentin E. Williams and H. Salim Alim. The double special issue explores hip hop activism and representational politics in selected countries from the global north and south. In issue 5.1 (2018), the guest editors offer key examples of the different forms that hip hop activism may take and present meaningful insights into debates about agency in a media and cultural terrain that is shaped by US cultural imperialism and colonial legacies. The first three articles, written by Warrick Moses, Manuel Armando Guissemo and Quentin Williams, focus on South African hip hop lyrics, multilingualism in post-apartheid South Africa and linguistic citizenship in postcolonial Mozambique, and “critically give voice to marginalized speakers of languages in contexts where our colonial heritage and globalization shape the ways in which linguistic citizenship are negotiated” (guest editors’ introduction). The next article by Patrick Turner and Darren Chetty “take[s] the concept of hip hop activism beyond acts of artistic performance into educational environments”, while Kendra Salois subsequently “provides a nuanced reading of the Moroccan political context as well as the ways in which hip hop artists navigate the political and artistic terrain as artists and activists”. The final article by Sina Nitzsche then “explores hip hop activism and representational politics by drawing readers’ attention to the ways in which Sister Souljah employs her art and activism to seize political and artistic agency”.

Five reviews of recent works with a prominent focus on hip hop conclude issue 5.1 (2018). The section opens with Marcus O’Dair’s review of Redefining Mainstream Popular Music, edited by Sarah Baker, Andy Bennett and Jodie Taylor. O’Dair situates this edited volume within the longer debate on the keyword “mainstream” in popular music studies. Providing a meditation on the current state of this concept, the reviewer contends that this volume’s essays remind us “that to assume a binary relationship between the mainstream and the underground is simplistic”. Following this broader consideration of “mainstream” as a longstanding keyword in popular music studies, the next review examines the particularities of “citizenship”, as Colin Harte discusses Derek Pardue’s Cape Verde, Let’s Go: Creole Rappers and Citizenship in Portugal. As its title suggests, Pardue’s monograph aims to disentangle the complicated politics of language and citizenship within the Cape Verdean diaspora in Lisbon. “The author explores these two related, complex concepts”, Harte states, “in relation to broader histories of encounter and the socio-politics of difference in Portugal.” Turning from Portugal back to the birthplace of hip hop, the United States, Lee Watkins provides a detailed overview of Elijah Wald’s recent book, Talking ’Bout Your Mama: The Dozens, Snaps, and the Deep Roots of Rap. Wald traces the dozens, a competitive, virtuosic demonstration of verbal dexterity in African American culture across time and space in this far-ranging work. Following the practice from its origins in the nineteenth-century African American experience, to its discovery as “folklore” in the early twentieth century, and finally to its adaptation by mid-century African American novelists as well as late twentieth-century evolution in commercial music, Wald has, according to Watkins, crafted a history “of immense worth” to scholars in multiple disciplines. Moving away from the United States, the next review brings us to Mongolia via James Cox’s review of Mongolian Bling: Discovering the Roots of Hip Hop in the Heart of Asia, a documentary by Benj Binks. This documentary considers how hip hop in Ulaanbaatar intersects with identity in terms of gender, social class, nationality and subcultural belonging. Its strength, Cox asserts, lies “in exploring how artists use hip hop as a means to investigate what it means to be Mongolian today”. Finally, issue 5.1 concludes with John Mullen’s review of L’Air rebelle (The Air of Rebellion), a recent radio series on France Culture. Created by photographer and documentarist Arnaud Contreras, this French-language series of five one-hour programmes takes the listener on a musical journey around the world. The musicians considered are primarily recent, with a handful of artists of historical significance included, while the genres are varied, many of which demonstrating the global influence of American hip hop as a vehicle for expressing local dissent. “Rap, as a means to loudly proclaim the voices of the unheard”, Mullen concludes, “is alive and well.”

A new year offers exciting opportunities for change and growth. Many scholars find that resolutions to achieve academic and publishing goals and milestones are among their top priorities, including peer-reviewed journal articles. With a new editorial board and reviews editor joining the team, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the publication of high-quality intellectual and international research, essays and reviews. The unique aim of the journal is to address the inter- and multidisciplinary study of world popular music, including the various expressions and manifestations it takes and the critical role popular music plays in our everyday lives and the world over, and academic rigour and quality remain a high priority. We hope that JWPM will remain to be of interest to researchers, scholars and students of popular music from all over the world. It is our absolute intention to continue on making JWPM a unique and intellectually stimulating journal that is accessible to a wide readership and that investigates some of the most pressing issues related to the study of world popular music.

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