Catching Up on my Utopian Tendencies

I never did blog about episode 3 of Utopian Tendencies that took place on May 29th, but luckily Lauren Heywood is on her A-game! She has a great synopsis of our discussion here, wherein we talked about Jeremy Deller‘s lecture/film Everybody in the Place, which is a social history of House music in the UK.

I can’t recommend this film highly enough, it is a fascinating look at not only the cultural exchange of music through social movements, but also the ways in which this unearths a culture’s deeply nationalist, classist, and racist structures. It was eye-opening to be talking about the ways in which the UK Miner’s Strike in 1984-1985 was a moment that informed much of the social and political history of England since, and Deller uses it (as well as House music) as a way to frame the current moment. It’s brilliantly delivered, and I was blown away as an ever-aspiring pedant at this almost flawless bit of produced pedagogy. It was a really fun discussion, and you can listen to it here.

One of the fascinating bits of that discussion was when Deller talks about the importance of  Sound Systems (as part of a longer, Jamaican history of musical tradition) in framing the culture of House music in the UK, and part of that racial tension that was also influenced by the gay club scenes in Chicago and Detroit. It speaks to the broader African diaspora of cultural influence that finds itself back in the heart of the crumbling empire, and the heavy-handed response on the part of police and politicians.

In fact, this strain of thought was the context for Lauren mentioning Grime, an entire musical genre I was unfamiliar with—to her surprise and possibly even a tinge of chagrin 🙂 So episode 4 was an intervention to rectify this gaping hole in my knowledge of contemporary UK musical movements. That happened a week ago, and Lauren and I embarked on a tour de force of Grime music (after 20 minutes of catching up and me trying to get my internet connection under control) which was a total blast.

I’ll let Lauren speak to the finer details of Grime, but I really enjoyed the music she played for me, and the context, history, and broader view of the import and impact in recent history of this movement speaks volumes to our moment, as Nigel pointed out during the discussion. It is a doozy at 3 hours, but if you are looking for a Grime tour, this might be the ticket!

One of the bits about the show a week ago is we used Jitsi for chatting, and I loved the Youtube share feature, it made Lauren’s DJing of the Grime music videos quite seamless.

This Friday at 5 PM CET we will be broadcasting episode 5, and this is the first topic I am recommending. I am going to shift gears a bit and look back on some of the Utopian Rhetoric during the Web 2.0 years, namely 2004 – 2010. I sent Lauren a link to What is Web 2.0? and we will be using that as background, but our homework is to find some Utopian rhetoric from that era and look at some of its assumptions, promises, etc. So, that is an open call for anyone who wants to use the comments to share a few choice gems for us to chat about on the radio.


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