Blues, Funk, R&B, Soul, Hip Hop, and Rap: A Research and Information Guide/Jazz Books in the 1990s: An Annotated Bibliography

Article excerpt

Blues, Funk, R&B, Soul, Hip Hop, and Rap: A Research and Information Guide. By Eddie S. Meadows. New York: Routledge, 2010. [xxviii, 388 p. ISBN 9780415973199. $150.] Appendices, indexes.

Jazz Books in the 1990s: An Annotated Bibliography. By Janice Leslie Hochstat Greenberg. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2010. [xvii, 209 p. ISBN 9780810869851. $45.] Indexes.

A bibliography can be more than a list. If the citations are carefully arranged, the overall presentation can be read like a report written in shorthand. Annotating a bibliography increases the opportunities for reportage, not only for readers today, but also for tomorrow's researchers who may realize that some of the listed items may have fallen out of print during the meantime. Such notes are greatly needed for topics in popular music, for which many books and magazines may be held only in a few libraries. Two new publications by Meadows and Greenberg offer annotated bibliographies for several styles of African American popular music.

For the last thirty years, Eddie S. Meadows has produced several books and annotated bibliographies on jazz, the most recent of them being Jazz Scholarship and Pedagogy: A Research and Information Guide (New York: Routledge, 2006). The title of the present work, Blues, Funk, R&B, Soul, Hip Hop and Rap: A Research and Information Guide, suggests a complementary offering to that previous volume. Blues seems to be ascribed by many writers as "roots" for nearly every contemporary popular music style today, but Meadows's addition of funk, R&B (rhythm and blues), and soul to his scope are appropriate as they are indeed African American outgrowths from the blues. Hip hop and rap may be descended not as much from the blues, but rather more from the oral arts and games that have been shared among African Americans as cultural traditions parallel to the blues. The three sections are broadly proportioned, with blues containing 445 citations, funk, R&B and soul having 354, and rap and hip hop 545. Meadows cites books, dissertations, and articles from periodicals and journals, and in four appendices he adds Web resources and periodical titles. He appears to aim for comprehensive coverage instead of completeness, a sensible and manageable strategy in view of the fat size of Robert Ford's second edition of A Blues Bibliography (New York: Routledge, 2007), which indexes books, periodicals, notes to LPs and compact discs, and blues reference works. Citations for the most part are for publications through 2008, although I did spot a few published in 2009. Also, Meadows limits inclusion to publications from America and Great Britain, yet he selects foreign language items from other countries if they cover aspects not found in the English language books and articles.

One attractive feature of this resource guide is the prefatory essay "Research Trends: Blues, Funk, R&B, Soul, Hip Hop and Rap" (pp. xv-xxviii), which presents a historiography of studies in African American popular music, emphasizing those appearing since 1990. It serves today as an orientation for new researchers, and tomorrow it will be a snapshot of the state of those research topics in 2010. A second positive is the citations of works by African American writers, from Portia Maultsby and Daphne Duval Harrison to Jon Michael Spencer and Valerie Sweeney Prince. Meadows's inclusion of several articles from Spencer's journal Black Sacred Music: A Journal of Theomusicology (1989-95) enhance the bibliography with relevant content not to be found in the serials devoted to blues, soul, and rap. A third plus are the citations for dissertations, which are especially plentiful for the hip hop and rap section. While reading through the entries for the hip hop and rap dissertations written since 1990, I realized that they studied in present- day terms the contemporary audiences and consumers of the music as well as the performers. During my service at the University of Mississippi Blues Archive during the 1990s, I encountered several visitors who wished to research the blues with the same attention to audiences that hip hop/rap researchers were giving; however, those same visitors wanted to treat not the contemporary blues, but rather the blues before 1960, for which the attending audiences in the 1990s were either aged or dead. …