Jamaican dancehall has long been one of the most vital and influential cultural and artistic forces within contemporary global music. Wake the Town and Tell the People presents, for the first time, a lively, nuanced, and comprehensive view of this musical and cultural phenomenon: its growth and historical role within Jamaican society, its economy of star making, its technology of production, its performative practices, and its capacity to channel political beliefs through popular culture in ways that are urgent, tangible, and lasting.
Norman C. Stolzoff brings a fan's enthusiasm to his broad perspective on dancehall, providing extensive interviews, original photographs, and anthropological analysis from eighteen months of fieldwork in Kingston. Stolzoff argues that this enormously popular musical genre expresses deep conflicts within Jamaican society, not only along lines of class, race, gender, sexuality, and religion but also between different factions struggling to gain control of the island nation's political culture. Dancehall culture thus remains a key arena where the future of this volatile nation is shaped. As his argument unfolds, Stolzoff traces the history of Jamaican music from its roots in the late eighteenth century to 1945, from the addition of sound systems and technology during the mid-forties to early sixties, and finally through the post-independence years from the early sixties to the present.
Wake the Town and Tell the People offers a general introduction for those interested in dancehall music and culture. For the fan or musicologist, it will serve as a comprehensive reference book.
Norman C. Stolzoff, Ph.D. is president of Ethnographic Insight, Inc., a consumer anthropology and marketing research firm in Bellingham, Washington.
List of Illustrations xi Preface xiii Acknowledgments xxv 1 Dancehall Culture in Jamaica: An Introduction 1 2 "From Way Back When": The Dancehall from Slavery to World War II 20 3 "Talking Blues": The Rise of the Sound System 41 4 "Get Up, Stand Up": The Dancehall in Post-Independence Jamaica 65 5 The Dub Market: The Recording Studio and the Production of Dancehall Culture 115 6 "I'm Like a Gunshot Heading Toward a Target": The Career Trajectory of the Dancehall Entertainer 151 7 "Run Come Inna the Dance": The Dancehall Performance 193 8 The Politics of Dancehall Culture: A Conclusion 227 Notes 249 Bibliography 273 Index 285