Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ by Mark Katz

Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ
By Mark Katz
(Oxford University Press)

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Mark Katz gives appropriate shout-outs to Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, Jim Fricke and Charlie Ahearn, as well as Jeff Chang for their tomes on hip-hop culture and its early beginnings. But to again discuss the inception of the hip-hop DJ that books such as Last Night a DJ Saved My Life (1999), Yes Yes Ya’ll (2002) and Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (2005) have already covered in various amounts of detail, makes Katz –an Associate Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, appear, well, repetitive in many respects.

But I digress, where other books simply told tales of those early years in the 1970’s, to include talks on, with and about the emcee, graffiti, b-boys and the DJ, Groove Music uses web 2.0 technology to showcase the art and culture in 2012.

Digital technology is the major difference with this book. Though Katz still covers the humble start of a culture that’s now massively appealing –he also incorporates a companion website that includes an extensive collection of audio,  video and interview clips by many of the greatest DJs in hip-hop history. Think: Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc, Grandmaster Caz, Flash, Grand Wizzard Theodore, Grandmixer D.ST, Q-Bert, Shadow, A-Trak, Jazzy Jeff, Questlove –you name them, they’re a part of Groove Music.

As a music historian, Katz’s research does come off highly academic but the passion, dedication and detail for which he has written Groove Music, makes it a worthwhile read for hip-hop heads and general music lovers alike.

Mark Katz is also a violinist, radio DJ and aspiring turntablist.

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About ND McCray

ND McCray is a former Brooklynite, now Beijing-based writer, penning pieces on arts, culture and other stuff.
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