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The racial politics of hybridity and ‘neo-eclecticism’ in contemporary popular music

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2002

Abstract

This paper explores some forms of rock/rap hybridity and a historically related shift toward a greater eclecticism in consumption practices in popular music in the United States in the late 1990s, a period marked by the decline of rock as the dominant mode of popular music. This decline has repercussions not simply for a musical style, but additionally for the privileged subjects who are both the producers and consumers of that music: predominantly white, middle-class males. A number of different strategies have emerged which attempt to develop new positions for these white suburbanites to occupy in the contemporary music-cultural terrain in order to re-assert their hegemony as both producers and consumers. On the producers' side, the most common strategy has been to develop hybrid forms which combine rock with styles of its musical competitors – most notably, of hip hop music and culture. On the consumer side, the response has been the emergence of a ‘neo-eclectic’ form of listening where a number of formerly disparate or even hostile musical forms are consumed by a single (white suburban) individual.

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Research Article
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© 2002 Cambridge University Press

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