This issue of the Journal of Popular Music Studies is one that marks and announces a series of transitions in the JPMS editorial team. This is the first issue where we, K. E. Goldschmitt and Elliott H. Powell, officially start our term as the new co-editors of JPMS. We want to express deep gratitude to our immediate JPMS co-editor predecessors, Robin James and Eric Weisbard, for their mentorship and guidance as well as their significant leadership contributions to JPMS during their tenure—namely, reimagining the Field Notes section and providing new digital outlets for popular music knowledge production during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (like the lecture series in our 33.4 issue and the Books in Process series). We are happy to announce that Robin and Eric will be staying on the JPMS editorial team as associate editors. Additionally, we want to acknowledge and thank Esther Morgan-Ellis, Roshanak Kheshti, and David Suisman for their tireless and exceptional work as JPMS managing editor, Field Notes editor, and book reviews editor, respectively; all three are outgoing JPMS team members. And to that end, we want to welcome Eric Harvey, Kavita Kulkarni, Alyx Vesey, and Antonia Randolph as JPMS’ newest managing editor, Field Notes editor, book reviews editor, and associate book reviews editor, respectively. K and I are excited to work with you all, we are excited to continue to build on the work by the previous editorial teams, and we are excited to share and advance our own vision for JPMS to our current and future readers.
Indeed, as scholars who take transnational approaches to popular music studies (e.g., Brazil, Latin America, UK, South Asia and the South Asian diaspora), we are interested in boosting work about the Global South and by scholars from the Global South. In particular, K and I share scholarly commitments to Afro-diasporic popular music, and as such, we welcome submissions centered on transnational, diasporic, and other spatial analyses of Black expressive culture; this can include, but is in no way limited to, critical regionalities and Black popular music, comparative Afro-diasporic music studies, and cross-cultural Black music studies (Afro-Asian, Afro-Latinx, Afro-Indigenous). Lastly, we are invested in popular musics by marginalized communities, and are thus, equally invested in centering those working in disability studies, queer and trans studies, critical and comparative race and ethnic studies, and/or those who are disabled, queer and/or trans, scholars of color, and whose identities sit at the intersections of these and other vectors of difference and belonging.
Coincidentally, while the previous/outgoing editorial team overwhelmingly curated this JPMS issue (and we are grateful to them for shepherding these manuscripts through the editorial process), the essays featured in this issue touch on many of the themes that are part of our visions as new editors. The Field Notes section starts us off with Philip Gentry’s assessment of the dueling sound systems during Philadelphia’s 2020 presidential election voting process—the Trump and Republican led “stop the steal” side playing songs like Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of” and the Village People’s “YMCA;” and the liberal Democratic side playing Motown and Philadelphia Soul. For Gentry, both sides, to different ends, find strategic uses of Black music to achieve a set of political objectives (a purposeful elision of Blackness, and Black queerness, on the Trump side to shore up white heteropatriarchy; and a centering of Blackness on the liberal side as an espousal of racial egalitarianism that has yet-to-come). On the heels of this identitarian logics of genre, the next group of essays in Field Notes offer a reassessment of Miles Parks Grier’s 2013 JPMS polemic “Said the Hooker to the Thief: ‘Some Kind of Way Out’ of Rockism.” Part of the Field Notes “From the Vault” series, in which scholars reflect on a notable JPMS article, Kate Grover uses Grier’s critique of rockism, the exclusionary logics of canonization, and the problems of canon expansion to think through Grier’s analysis of sex work and to proffer what it might look like to think of rockism, and anti-rockism, as an everyday engagement from the side of a fan rather than critic. Grier’s response to Grover gives him an opportunity to address the promise and pitfalls of his original essay as well as powerfully note that while rockism might not hold the same kind of mainstream foothold of decades prior, its problematic legacies around canonization endure in many other genres and must therefore still be addressed. Field Notes concludes with an insightful interview between scholar Jillian Hernandez and queer Chicanx DJ Sad Boy. In it, DJ Sad Boy outlines their live mixing and curatorial practices that seek to create a Black, Latinx, queer, femme, and sex positive coalitional experience through sound.
On the peer-review side of things, this issue’s featured articles are concerned with aesthetics, politics, and community formation. Ayo Adeduntan’s manuscript starts things off, and situates Yoruba hip hop within larger history of Nigerian popular music forms like jùjú and highlife. In so doing, Adeduntan argues that Yoruba hip hop is a cultural site of hidden transcripts that critique the dominant milieux. Continuing the theme of rap and nationalism, Alena Gray Aniskiewicz explores works by Polish rapper Mister D, the hip hop persona of writer Dorota Masłowska. Specifically, Aniskiewicz posits that Mister D draws on the sampling logics of collage and pastiche in order to critique norms of authenticity and tradition that have come to frame Polish national identity. Moving from one rap technique to another, Ben Duinker’s article analyzes the work of flow and timing. Importantly, Duinker reads the performance of flow in rap as not only a part of, and informed by, other African American musical vernacular traditions, but one that also taps into the long history of Black people and Black culture’s relation to the human. And it’s on this topic of relationality and the human that we find John R. Eperjesi’s article on famed techno group Drexciya. Bridging Black popular music studies, Afrofuturism studies, blue cultural studies, and eco-criticism, Eperjesi locates Drexciya as a groundbreaking band that uses themes and sounds of the ocean in ways that trouble the human/non-human binary and that offer “an aquatopian civilization” through which to imagine and make possible “offshore tomorrows.” Lastly, Bradley Rogers closes out the peer-review section with an exploration of the racialized, gendered, and sexual dimensions of Lawrence Welk. Through an analysis of Welk’s earlier “champagne sound” to his later “big band sound,” Rogers illustrates how Welk’s work both dovetailed with and deviated from national political norms of the family.
We, of course, end the issue with our book reviews section, which extends the issue’s main threads of power and identity. In Michelle Zauner’s memoir Crying in H Mart: A Memoir, Runchao Liu finds a meditation that’s not simply, or solely focused on music, but instead a book that considers food, kinship, gender, and death in Korean American identity formation. Amber Musser’s astute reading of Jayna Brown’s Black Utopias: Speculative Life and the Music of Other Worlds lays bare the ways in which sonic and vibrational forces can produce and make space for Blackness’s radical and liberatory potential. And finally, James G. McNally praises Felicia Angeja Viator’s To Live and Defy in LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America as a book that provides a nuanced account of the relationship between race and power in the development and popularity of gangsta rap.
As a way to introduce ourselves as new co-editors, and as a way to thank you for your continued support of JPMS, this will be freely available for one year from the publication date. So, we ask that you read, share, and assign these incredible articles. We look forward to our tenure as JPMS co-editors, and we welcome all inquiries and submissions from scholars and non-scholars alike. Collectively, in the words of Tracy Chapman, “we can learn, we can teach,” and ultimately “make a new beginning.”