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Next Week in Music | Jan. 31 – Feb. 6 • New Books

J Dilla, Whitney, Louis, Genesis, Afrobeats, Jazz and the rest of your reading list.

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J Dilla and Lil Nas X. Afrobeats and Armstrong. Houston and Australia. Jazz and Genesis. And plenty of vintage vinyl vixens. What more could you want read about? Here’s all they wrote:

 


Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm
By Dan Charnas

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Equal parts biography, musicology, and cultural history, Dilla Time chronicles the life and legacy of J Dilla, a musical genius who transformed the sound of popular music for the 21st century. He wasn’t known to mainstream audiences, even though he worked with renowned acts like D’Angelo and Erykah Badu and influenced the music of superstars like Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson. He died at the age of 32, and in his lifetime he never had a pop hit. Yet since his death, J Dilla has become a demigod: revered by jazz musicians and rap icons from Robert Glasper to Kendrick Lamar; memorialized in symphonies and taught at universities. And at the core of this adulation is innovation: a new kind of musical time-feel that he created on a drum machine, but one that changed the way “traditional” musicians play. In Dilla Time, Dan Charnas chronicles the life of James DeWitt Yancey, from his gifted childhood in Detroit, to his rise as a Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer, to the rare blood disease that caused his premature death; and follows the people who kept him and his ideas alive. Dilla Time is a different kind of book about music, a visual experience with graphics that build those concepts step by step for fans and novices alike, teaching us to “see” and feel rhythm in a unique and enjoyable way. This is the story of the man and his machines, his family, friends, partners, and celebrity collaborators. Culled from more than 150 interviews about one of the most important and influential musical figures of the past hundred years, Dilla Time is a book as delightfully detail-oriented and unique as J Dilla’s music itself.”


Didn’t We Almost Have It All: In Defense of Whitney Houston
By Gerrick Kennedy

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On Feb. 11, 2012, Whitney Houston was found submerged in the bathtub of her suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. In the decade since, the world has mourned her death amid new revelations about her relationship to her Blackness, her sexuality, and her addictions. Didn’t We Almost Have It All is author Gerrick Kennedy’s exploration of the duality of Whitney’s life as both a woman in the spotlight and someone who often had to hide who she was. This is the story of Whitney’s life, her whole life, told with both grace and honesty. Long before that fateful day in 2012, Whitney split the world wide open with her voice. Hers was a once-in-a-generation talent forged in Newark, NJ, and blessed with the grace of the church and the wisdom of a long lineage of famous gospel singers. She redefined The Star-Spangled Banner. She became a box-office powerhouse, a queen of the pop charts, and an international superstar. But all the while, she was forced to rein in who she was amid constant accusations that her music wasn’t Black enough, original enough, honest enough. Kennedy deftly peels back the layers of Whitney’s complex story to get to the truth at the core of what drove her, what inspired her, and what haunted her.  Drawing on hundreds of sources, Kennedy takes readers back to a world in which someone like Whitney simply could not be, and explains in excruciating detail the ways in which her fame did not and could not protect her. A sweeping look at Whitney’s life, Didn’t We Almost Have It All contextualizes her struggles against the backdrop of tabloid culture, audience consumption, mental health stigmas, and racial divisions in America. It explores exactly how and why we lost a beloved icon far too soon.”


Genesis: A Trick of the Tail
By Peter Chrisp

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This is a comprehensive look at the supergroup that is Genesis, following the origins of the band with its founding members Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar); and Phil Collins (vocals, drums), who joined in 1970, to the years when the legendary Peter Gabriel was the frontman of the band. The book charts the rise of Genesis as a global band and reflects how they sustained success despite having undergone several personnel changes throughout its history. This is their story, from Charterhouse School in 1967 to reforming and playing live over 50 years later.”


Freak Out: How a Musical Revolution Rocked the World in the Sixties
By Tony Wellington

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Freak Out is Australia’s coming-of-age story, how we as a nation responded to the global events that filled our daily news coverage, and how the music of the era was anthemic to that process. The gun was fired on a period of unprecedented innovation and creativity in pop and rock music, the likes of which have never been repeated. Music spoke to young people in their own bespoke language, urging them to view themselves as decidedly separate from mainstream society — even suggesting they might drop out altogether. For a brief time, millions of young people across western culture believed they could successfully reinvent society. Liberation for pacifists, women, people of colour, homosexuals, students and the oppressed seemed just a short revolution away. There was no room for complacency or apathy in the face of the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and dual threats of nuclear and environmental annihilation. Australians were spared the fear of bomb blasts, assassinations and kidnappings. Yet the ructions abroad invaded our national psyche, and the music that was generated in that milieu infiltrated Australian culture and transformed society forever.”


A Quick Ting On Afrobeats
By Christian Adofo

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Afrobeats is a fast-growing genre, one that has carved out a distinct and powerful Black identity rooted within the African continent. A Quick Ting On Afrobeats, the first book of its kind, chronicles the social and cultural development of the music genre. Tracing its rich history from the African continent all the way to the musical centre of the Western world, this exciting new book takes a unique look at the music of the African diaspora and their children, delving into how Afrobeats and its sub-genres have provided new articulations of Black identity and pride. Remembering the Afrobeats pioneers and memorable cultural moments as well as investigating the impact of African migration, travel and modernisation on the genre, A Quick Ting On Afrobeats provides an insightful look at how Afrobeats became the explosive music genre it is today.”


Ugly Beauty: Jazz in the 21st Century
By Philip Freeman

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “What does jazz mean 20 years into the 21st century? Has streaming culture rendered music literally meaningless, thanks to the removal of all context beyond the playlist? Are there any traditions left to explore? Has the destruction of the apprenticeship model (young musicians learning from their elders) changed the music irrevocably? Are any sounds off limits? How far out can you go and still call it jazz? Or should the term be retired? These questions, and many more, are answered in Ugly Beauty, as Phil Freeman digs through his own experiences and conversations with present-day players. Jazz has never seemed as vital as it does right now, and has a genuine role to play in 21st-century culture, particularly in the U.S. and the U.K.”


The Real Ambassadors: Dave and Iola Brubeck and Louis Armstrong Challenge Segregation
By Keith Hatschek

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Keith Hatschek tells the story of three artists — Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck and Iola Brubeck — and the stand they took against segregation by writing and performing a jazz musical titled The Real Ambassadors. First conceived by the Brubecks in 1956, the musical’s journey to the stage tracks extraordinary twists and turns across the backdrop of the civil rights movement. During the Cold War, the U.S. State Department enlisted some of America’s greatest musicians to serve as jazz ambassadors, touring the world to trumpet a so-called free society. Honored as celebrities abroad, the jazz ambassadors, who were overwhelmingly African Americans, returned home to racial discrimination and deferred dreams. The Brubecks used this double standard as the central message for the musical, deploying humor and pathos to share perspectives on American values. On Sept. 23, 1962, The Real Ambassadors’ debut moved a packed arena at the Monterey Jazz Festival to laughter, joy, and tears. Although critics unanimously hailed the performance, it sadly became a footnote in cast members’ bios. The enormous cost of reassembling the star-studded cast made the creation impossible to stage and tour. However, The Real Ambassadors: Dave and Iola Brubeck and Louis Armstrong Challenge Segregation caps this jazz story by detailing how the show was triumphantly revived in 2014 by Jazz at Lincoln Center. This reaffirmed the musical?s place as an integral part of America’s jazz history and served as an important reminder of how artists’ voices are a powerful force for social change.”


We Can Be The New Wind
By Alexandros Anesiadis

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The hardcore punk scene of the ’80s had two major crossovers, one with heavy metal and one with pop-influenced independent rock. A significant number of early hardcore punk bands incorporated more melodic, challenging and experimental elements in their music while retaining their punk backbone and by doing so, they went on to create something new. This book focuses on the crossover of punk, hardcore punk, garage revival and power pop with the alternative rock scene and reports on many of the main bands in the genre. This book’s structure is organised according to country, and then regionally. The U.S. obviously has the lion’s share, since it was source of this new sounds melting pot, but the U.K. is also present as is the rest of the world. More than 160 bands were interviewed and even more reviewed, resulting in a total of more than 1000 bands. Flyers and pictures were obtained with permission from the bands, and many of them that have never seen the light of day. Until now. The first band interviewed was 7 Seconds, so put New Wind on and turn it up, because it’s time to begin the journey.”


Vixens of Vinyl: The Art and Allure of Vintage Album Covers
By David Boykin

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Vixens of Vinyl: The Art and Allure of Vintage Album Covers is a dazzling tour of over 200 beguiling album covers. Originally conceived as an easy way to sell albums to a predominantly male audiophile audience, this simple ruse soon took on an art of its own and much fine work was done. Author David Boykin has been collecting and researching the history of vixens of vinyl for over 20 years, and here, for the first time, presents his collection and narrative. Sure, vinyl is hot again — but the covers are hotter.”


Fame: Lil Nas X
By Darren G Davis & Victor Moura

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Lil Nas X has become one of the most influential people in music according to Time and Forbes. The multi-award-winning rapper who is breaking down glass ceilings being a gay man in hip-hop with a big hit called Old Town Road. This comic book biography tells the story of Lil Nas X’s childhood in Atlanta and his rise to international superstardom. In 2019, he released a remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus that generated him further fame. His videos have earned over 600 million views on TikTok. Check out this 22-page comic book featuring the rise of Lil Nas X. Special cover by famed comic book artist Joe Phillips.”