Sound Tracks: Towards a Topography of Hybridization in US Urban Popular Music

Martin Butler,

Universität Duisburg-Essen

I. Tracking Paths of Hybridization: Urban Popular Music as a Cultural ‘Seismograph’

Urban popular music is particularly apt to migrate, to move, and thus to cross borders, both in geographical as well as in medial or generic terms. Due to “the interweaving of melody, harmony, and rhythm,” as Wilfried Raussert has it, it “is able to circumvent cognitive and language [and – as one may add – national] barriers more easily than other media” (13). Thus, it provides an ideal site for the creation of new sounds, styles and musical (sub)cultures, which, in turn, all serve particular functions in specific social, economic and political environments. Indeed, it seems as if – particularly in times of globalization – this ‘mobility of sounds’ turns urban popular music into “a significant surrogate measure of culture” (Carney 7). In that sense, urban popular music, as Simon Frith has rightly observed, “reflects the changing nature of its audience and, in particular, is a kind of musical measure of migration, demographic change and the breakdown of geographical sound barriers” (97).

Following Frith’s observation, popular music can thus be said to “provide[…] a kind of map of a changing society” (106), as it is, in itself, a paradigmatic medium of cultural transgression, of continuous renewal, of transnationalization and hybridization (cf. Raussert 13). Apart from crossing national borders, popular music also negotiates between the local and the global in an unparalleled manner, incorporating ‘indigenous’ traits with “musical elements from the global soundscape, from ‘transnational’ musical forms (like rock)” (Fairley 273). At the same time, urban pop “adopts local sounds, and may [thus] appropriate [what Fairley calls] local ‘traditional’ copyrights” (273). Moreover, in the context of transnational flows of migration, popular music “provides a mechanism by which the ‘cultural baggage’ of ‘home’ can be transported through time and space, and transplanted into a new environment, assisting in the maintenance of culture and identity” (Connell/Gibson 161).

Against the backdrop of these observations on the significance of urban popular music as a “spearhead function of the arts” (Raussert 16), a fast, most vivid and dynamic cultural ‘seismograph,’ which sensitively tracks developments of transculturation and processes of cultural exchange, the reconstruction of the forms and functions of ‘musical mobility’ is a most promising and illuminating enterprise, both from an ethnographical as well as from an Urban Cultural Studies point of view, as it might provide insights into processes of cultural integration and disintegration in the urban regions of the United States and beyond. This paper sets out to contribute to the conceptualization of such a geography of urban sounds and the history of their ‘migration’ by incorporating ideas from cultural geography, cultural studies, and the newly emerging field of what Stephen Greenblatt and others have labelled ‘mobility studies’ (cf. “Racial Memory” 60; “Manifesto”). Adding to the theoretical considerations that have been made in the field so far, it thus sets out to further develop an analytical framework for an examination of aesthetically and ideologically specific forms of musical articulation in urban contexts, which, as Leyshon et al. have it, constitutes “one dimension of a general spatial culture of mobility” (430). (cf. Lo/Gilbert 45). In order to demonstrate how “contact zones and locations of exchange” (Raussert 12) become visible in hybrid forms of urban popular music, I will then present exemplary analyses, which are not only supposed to illustrate that processes of transculturation are determined by the particular socio-political, economic, and geographical environment in which they appear and thus result in what Lo and Gilbert have labeled ‘differentiated hybridities’ (cf. 45), but which are also meant to highlight the terminological and methodological difficulties as well as the benefits one might gain from establishing a topography of hybridization in the field of US urban popular music.

Let me, at this point, emphasize that the development of such a topography is a highly ambitious and, most probably, a never-ending project, the scope of which can only be hinted at in this paper. Consequently, I can and will not provide a comprehensive or systematic overview of the places, or sites, of hybridization in US urban popular music. What I can and will provide, however, might best be understood as an argument in favor of a particular trend in the study of urban popular music, a set of observations, or questions rather, which might help guide further explorations in the field.

II. On Music, Place, and the Migration of Sounds: Where Cultural Geography, Urban Cultural Studies, and Mobility Studies Meet

In recent years, there have been a range of contributions which took seriously the endeavor of rethinking American music studies in times of transnationalization and transculturation and of linking the analysis of popular music with an examination of the distinct places in which it is produced, performed, and listened to. Among these contributions, for instance, we find Gerard Béhague’s magnificent paper on “Bridging South America and the United States in Black Music Research,” Wilfried Raussert’s and John Miller Jones’s rich collection on Traveling Sounds: Music, Migration, and Identity in the U.S. and Beyond, Marisol Berríos-Miranda’s and Shannon Dudley’s fascinating ‘thick description’ of the musical geography of Cangrejos/Santurce, Puerto Rico, or the volume on The Sounds of People and Places: A Geography of American Music from Country to Classical and Blues to Bop edited by George O. Carney, who, in his introduction, hints at two of the most central research areas in music geography which I would like to use as a starting point for my argument, i.e. first, “[t]he origin (culture hearth) and diffusion of music phenomena” (3) and, second, “[t]he spatial dimensions of music dealing with human migration, transportation routes, and communication networks (e.g., transnationalization of music with the exchange of artists between countries as well as the import/export of vinyls, cassettes, and compact discs [...])” (3).

For the conceptualization of a topography of hybridization in urban popular music, Carney’s observation is fruitful and problematic at the same time: It is fruitful, as it makes clear that the movement of sounds can certainly be tied to and explained by the migration of people – one need only think of the movement of the blues from the south to the north [i.e. from the rural to the urban] in the late 1940s and 1950s, which was initiated by the movement of artists like Muddy Waters or Elmore James from the Mississippi Delta region to Chicago at the time (cf. Carney 212); or of the movement of Mexican Americans from the Southwest, which “has established a number of important Mexican American styles, including conjunto, mariachi, and tejano, in the northern and eastern parts of the United States” (Carney 212). Another example is Salsa, which, in the course of several migratory movements, “emerged in Cuba, reached its first heyday in New York and was then reimported in the Caribbean and other regions of Latin America” (Raussert 13).

More often than not, however – and this is where Carney’s observation begins to become problematic – sounds in the early 21st century are disseminated independent of human mobility and have long become a commodity on a global market, which is distributed either through a worldwide system of cultural logistics or via technologies such as music television or the Internet (cf. Slobin 8; cf. Connell/Gibson 45; cf. Raussert 13; cf. Leyshon et al. 428; cf. also Carney 5), which, as Connell and Gibson have it, “invariably prefigure[] mobility” and “transform spaces of consumption” (45). Therefore, what we need to consider when we set out to examine the forms and functions of hybridization in urban popular music, is the fact that the term “topography” needs reconsideration in times in which the local and the global have become so closely intertwined and in which we can no longer identify places of origin, specific routes or destinations.

And this, to be sure, is where Carney’s statement becomes even more problematic, as it implicitly assumes that there is indeed an origin of sounds – a ‘culture hearth,’ in Carney’s words. One should ask whether it is really the case that “[v]arious subgenres of music have originated in neighborhoods and are historically associated with a particular sound, such as ‘old school’ rap in the Bronx, ‘gangsta’ rap in Compton, and ‘doo-wop’ rock and roll in South Philadelphia” (Carney 208). I believe that such observations might become problematic, as they imply a particularly essentialist perspective on the emergence of musical styles and/or genres. In other words, how can we assume that there is a ‘place where it all began,’ when, at the same time, we acknowledge the quintessentially dynamic character of culture and its constant being ‘in flux’? To avoid this pitfall, a ‘topography of hybridization’ should thus not dedicate too much attention to cultural origins, sources, or roots, but should rather focus, both from an aesthetic and from a functional point of view, on the zones of contact and transfer, on the sites of hybridization and transgression – without, however, entirely “ignor[ing] the allure [...] of the firmly rooted” (Greenblatt 28). Such a shift in focus then, is very much in line with recent developments in ‘mobility studies,’ the theoretical foundations and ideological aims of which have been outlined in Stephen Greenblatt’s “manifesto” – yes, this time it’s a manifesto indeed. Very programmatically, Greenblatt proclaims that “mobility studies should identify and analyze the ‘contact zones’ where cultural goods are exchanged” (28) and goes on by stating that

Different societies constitute these zones differently, and their varied structures call forth a range of responses from wonder and delight to avidity and fear. Certain places are characteristically set apart from inter-cultural contact; others are deliberately made open, with the rules suspended that inhibit exchange elsewhere. A specialized group of ‘mobilizers’ – agents, go-betweens, translators, or intermediaries – often emerges to facilitate contact, and this group, along with the institution that they serve, should form a key part of the analysis. (28)

What sounds very general in Greenblatt’s manifesto, is, I believe, of considerable significance for our project of sketching a topography of hybridization in urban popular music: Not only could one easily identify the “places [...] deliberately made open” as urban environments and the “specialized group” as the music artists and their institutional contexts; what is even more, Greenblatt’s claim makes apparent that the term ‘topography’, in our context, must not only be used for a systematic approach towards geographical locations, but should also entail dimensions of economic, political and institutional agency and power in its mapping of processes of inter- or transcultural exchange. As it is true that the forms and functions of hybrid cultural artifacts are, to a considerable degree, also determined by social, economic, and political parameters, our understanding of the term ‘topography’ indeed has to be widened into that direction as well. To be precise, “[t]o consider the place of music is not to reduce music to its location, to ground it down into some geographical baseline, but to allow a purchase on the rich aesthetic, cultural, economic and political geographies of musical language” (Leyshon et al. 425). Following from this, the term ‘topography,’ in the context of this proposal, denotes the attempt to sketch a systematic and comprehensive overview of the forms and functions of hybridity in urban popular music, particularly accounting for the processual character and the regionally as well as socially, economically and politically specific quality of cultural hybridization. It denotes, in other words, ‘thick descriptions’ of urban soundscapes, which enable us to reconstruct the migration of musical styles and genres.

III. Differentiated Hybridities: Mapping Contact Zones in Urban Popular Music in the Americas

As is the case with almost any theoretical framework, there are a number of difficulties in turning it into practice: There are, for example, a number of musical phenomena which are, due to processes of commodification and worldwide dissemination, “almost placeless, … endlessly circulating the globe via world tours or electronic media” (Leyshon et al. 428). In these cases, there are no ‘sound tracks’ left that might give us a clue about processes of movement and migration which these musical forms might have been subject to. However, I believe that, for a number of urban regions in the United States, one can indeed come up with a map of musical locations, movements, and, what is most important, contact zones. Breeding grounds for hybridization such as Miami, where Cuban music conquered large segments of the urban cultural production, or New York, where a distinct club scene forms the basis for the emergence of a variety of hybrid musical styles, could become the objects of further research setting out to differentiate various levels and sites of hybridization in order to reconstruct urban soundscapes. I am sure that such an endeavor, which Susan J. Smith carefully proposed labeling “audio-ethnography” (233), leads to a number of insightful revaluations of traditional assumptions about particular musical genres or styles and may help “differentiate[] and rewrit[e] existing histories of the emergence of U.S. popular music” (Habell-Pallán/Raussert 2). In the case of New York rap, for example, Andrew Leyshon et al. observe that “[t]here is a problem with the standard [the traditional] historical geography of rap,” as “[t]he assumption that to place rap is to explain it risks denying the mobility, mutability and global mediation of musical forms” (429, original emphasis). And indeed, as Paul Gilroy argues in his The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness, rap is not a genuinely African-American form of cultural expression, the origins of which can be easily located in the Bronx, but “a hybrid cultural form, reflecting the increasingly mobile flows of musical influence and tradition” (Leyshon et al. 429). Gilroy, as Leyshon et al. summarize,

presents a different historical geography more sensitive to movement across space [and] emphasizes the role of Jamaican migration to New York in the 1970s, bringing to the South Bronx not only labour power but also the reggae sound system. The emphasis that this Jamaican cultural form placed upon the DJ or MC working over previously recorded music became a central component in rap, which then took off through innovations of scratching, mixing and sampling. (429).

In this way, Gilroy’s assessment indeed questions the idea of rap as an essentially African-American phenomenon which has a specific place of origin (cf. Leyshon et al. 429). He points out that “we have to ask how a form which flaunts and glories in its own malleability as well as its transnational character becomes interpreted as an expression of some authentic African-American essence.” Gilroy also wonders “[h]ow [...] rap [can] be discussed as if it sprang intact from the entrails of the blues” (qtd. in Leyshon et al. 429). His call for a “geography more sensitive to movement” thus once again puts emphasis on the need to reconsider the migration of sounds to and from and within urban environments in the Americas and makes us aware of the fact that this migration ‘constitutes one central dimension of cultural mobility.’

Marisol Berríos-Miranda and Shannon Dudley, in their close examination of the interplay of urban space, migration, and the emergence of soundscapes in Cangrejos/Santurce, Puerto Rico (which I have already introduced above), provide us with another example of what a ‘musical map’ of a particular region might look like and, what is even more interesting, how it has developed over time. In their detailed reconstruction of the “flows of people and music [which] constitute a ‘musical geography’” (121) of the area in question, they illustrate how “centuries of immigration from other islands … created a hybrid and inclusive musical culture in Cangrejos” (121). Among other things, Berríos-Miranda and Dudley demonstrate how the physical infrastructure of the town shaped forms of social and cultural interaction and exchange, pointing out, for instance, that the movie theaters of Cangrejos, “most of them located along the main street of Ponce de Léon” (139), indeed functioned as sites for cultural contact and transfer between international artists and the locals (cf. 139). A third example of a cultural contact zone in which, I believe, the hybridization of sounds follows particular patterns strongly determined by geographical as well as social and economic features of the immediate environment, is the punk rock scene in Southern California – which I would like to elaborate in more detail To be sure, I am only concerned with one particular genre or even subgenre here and do not make any statements about this ‘contact zone’ in general, if such statements are possible at all. The following observations thus refer to one specific instance of hybrid music in that region, which, as my diachronic perspective will hopefully illustrate, is not at all stable in its form or in its function.

Ever since the late 1980s, the Californian punkrock scene, which can be geographically located in and around the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, and San Diego, has brought forth a so-called ‘third wave ska scene’, including a number of ska bands whose music is characterized by a distinct West coast sound, e.g. Reel Big Fish, Let’s Go Bowling, Sublime, No Doubt, and others. This new wave of ska also fostered the rise of a number of skacore bands mixing ska and punk elements, among them being the Voodoo Glow Skulls, who were formed in 1988 and also gained international reputation after they contracted with Epitaph and, later, with Victory Records, which, by now, have become two of the most important independent/alternative labels worldwide. Right from the very beginning, their music was hybrid both in terms of genre and ethnic roots. Their songs incorporated “hardcore punk, traditional ska, tough guitar riffs and the Mexican music of their roots to create the prototype for the West Coast ska-core sound, influencing a wide range of bands from Sublime to No Doubt” (official website).

What turns The Voodoo Glow Skulls into an intriguing example in the context of developing a musical geography, however, is not only the fact that their sound is of a hybrid nature, but that the band, from their very beginnings in the late 1980s, underwent a particularly interesting development as regards their musical output in connection to place. A closer look at this development, at this ‘musical history,’ indeed sheds light on the ways in which the band managed to locate itself on the border between at least two cultures and, at the same time, at the intersection between the local and the global. As these acts of spatial and cultural self-location become most visible through the overall aesthetics of the band’s various albums, i.e. both their visual features (especially on the cover and the back cover) as well as the arrangement of songs, I will concentrate on the band’s discography and, by a chronological overview, try to delineate the band’s ‘path of hybridization.’

On one of their first albums, entitled Who Is, This Is? and published on Dr. Strange Records, a small independent label in Southern California, the band included two tracks in Spanish, apparently due to the Latino roots of (at least) three of its members. What is somewhat odd, though, is the fact that they did not provide the lyrics to these songs in the booklet, which only has the lyrics to the English songs. Spanish, at that point – it seems – did play a role, yet none of particular importance. Moreover, the hybrid nature of the first Voodoo Glow Skulls album is not only due to this ‘excursus’ into Mexican culture. Featuring an image on the front cover which bears strong resemblance to the Japanese Manga-tradition, it also incorporates a visual aesthetics that, back in those days, was just about to gain global popularity. Also, among the tracks on the album is a cover version of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” which adds yet another dimension to the hybrid character of the album. It does not, however, create a particularly strong tie between the band’s music and their specific ethnic or cultural place (in the literal sense of the word). Rather it is a collage of both local and global elements.

Yet, if one takes a closer look at the overall design of the following albums, one cannot avoid the impression that the form and the function of the Glow Skulls’ hybrid compositions change. Indeed, it seems as if the ‘local,’ or ‘regional’ dimension of their music is, in the course of their musical career, pushed into the foreground, and a distinct emphasis is laid on the fruitful exchange between Californian and Mexican cultures: More and more titles are recorded and sung in Spanish, the 1995 album Firme was re-recorded in Spanish, the covers of the albums, more often than not, draw on motifs and elements drawn from both Mexican and Chicano culture; some of the latest albums even have a Spanish title.
Of course, these observations on the aesthetics of the album covers and the arrangement of titles are not meant to imply a too straightforward development in which the traditional has eventually taken the upper hand – this, I think, would neither be in tune with the still present ‘modern’, or ‘western’ features in the Voodoo Glow Skulls’ music (they are still doing a comparatively straightforward version of ska-punk), nor would this do justice to a dynamic understanding of hybridity. Moreover, even if one agrees that there is such a reorientation towards cultural roots observable, critical voices could maintain that such a self-fashioning is but a mere marketing strategy exploiting the symbolic capital of ethnicity as a clever trick to increase sales figures.

Taking into consideration the ‘democratic’ appeal of punk, however, and coming back to the questions raised by cultural geography and mobility studies, there is reason enough to believe that the Voodoo Glow Skulls are not at all ‘selling out’ their ethnicity. Rather, such a change in the ways the band mixes styles, sounds, and motifs may be correlated to changing patterns of intercultural contact in the border zone between the United States and Mexico. Following from that, the artistic output of the Voodoo Glow Skulls can thus be mapped onto a particularly lively contact zone in the musical geography of the United States. Although one of the band members observes that “we’ve been together as a musical family for this long, and we have not really changed” (cf. official website), let me once again underline that I do see a change indeed– if only a subtle one. It seems as if, in times of increasingly accelerating processes of globalization, the ‘local’ has successfully gained prominence in the sound as well as the self-perception and self-fashioning of the Voodoo Glow Skulls.
This change of the band and its music finds continued expression also through the band’s latest releases, e.g. through their 2004 album Adicción, Tradición, y Revolución. As indicated by the Spanish album title, it seems as if the ‘situatedness’ of their music seems to have gained a particular momentum, both aesthetically as well as politically speaking: The album is “self produced and recorded (in their Dog Run Studios)” (official website), which, in itself, is a performative act of underlining the ‘rootedness’ of the sound, its very local character as well as the D.I.Y. element of the album, which is, of course, very much in line with the punk ethos of autonomy as well as its anti-hegemonic ideology and helps underline the legitimacy of the band’s claim for authenticity “through [its] links to amateurism, performance and even ‘ordinariness’” (Connell/Gibson 41).

That the significance of ‘place’ may have increased, is also indicated by the title of their 2007 release which is, quite tellingly, called Southern California Street Music – a title which, once again, draws a connection between the band’s music and their immediate local urban environment and thus puts emphasis on the ‘placedness’ of the band’s sound. Though this album was released on major label Victory Records, the Voodoo Glow Skulls remained on the D.I.Y. track and, in 2008, founded their own label “California Street Music.” The mission statement on the label’s website is telling in this respect:

CALIFORNIA STREET MUSIC is not only a record label. But also a musical collective of friends, artists, and musicians who share the same motivation in promoting D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) work ethics and morals in today’s modern music industry … CALIFORNIA STREET MUSIC is a product of our environment, our way of life, and our attitude. We are new, we are here…WE ARE NOW!

Against the backdrop of these observations, it seems as if the band, in the midst of a globalizing music industry, has developed an “interest in fixity,” which, as Connell and Gibson have it, “emerge[s] as a reaction to the sense of disjuncture apparent in commodification” (46). Their rediscovering the regional, in turn, is characterized by a form of cultural hybridity that, in the words of Robert C. Young, could well be labelled ‘organic.’ (qtd. in Lo/ Gilbert 45): “We have always tried to include our Latin roots in our music,” one of the band members points out as a comment on their 2004 album, “either by writing songs in Spanish or incorporating musical ideas that we grew up with. Latinos have a very strong sense of tradition, and we are very aware of it” (official website, my emphasis). It is the idea of ‘growing up with music’ which very much rings with Young’s idea of the ‘organic’ dimension of hybridity, and one could well add that it is not only people who grow up with music, but also music which grows up with people. Moreover, it changes over the course of time, due to changing regional, social, economic, and political parameters, and due to the emergence of what Stuart Hall has called ‘new ethnicities.’ Yes, the urban areas of Southern California are particularly vibrant places of cultural encounter and exchange and, quite literally, provide breeding grounds for such ethnicities; and yes, the music of this region, to come back to where we started from, is indeed closely attached to people’s places, their movements, their developments both as individuals and as communities. It is up to us, who have only begun to explore the musical geography of the United States, to describe the dynamics of these ever-shifting soundscapes in more detail.

IV. Conclusion

The exploration of the mobility of sounds, the identification of contact zones and the (re)writing of the histories of musical genres and styles as well as of individual artists in order to arrive at what I have labelled a topography of hybridization in urban popular music remains a challenging enterprise: Not only does it always run the risk of stepping into the pitfall of describing and analyzing what Mark Slobin has called an “endless horizon of musical expansion” (290, qtd. in Raussert 12). Also, as some critical voices would argue, the continuing globalization of sounds through technologies such as the Internet results, as mentioned earlier, in the ‘placelessness’ of particular musical forms of expression, in what Slobin has called the “constant deterritorialization of music-makers” (6) – so why should we use categories such as ‘place,’ ‘zone,’ or ‘movement’ at all? Indeed, in a globalized, post-national world, the identification of contact zones in music turns out to be highly difficult and problematic. Yet, I think it is worth it, as “sound is [indeed] inseparable from social landscape,” as Susan J. Smith (238) puts it; therefore, an analysis of urban popular music might reveal a lot about processes of sociocultural change, or exchange. Moreover, I believe that such an endeavor provides us with new insights into the emergence of particular forms of popular music in urban environments which have not come into focus so far. Furthermore, a topography of hybridization in urban popular music, framed by the theoretical considerations made so far, could systematically incorporate the results of so many existing case studies and ‘thick descriptions’ and could thus avoid overlooking the details. It might also contribute to countering the so frequently used, or misused, concept of ‘world music,’ which, in fact, is a very dangerous one, as it, more often than not, conflates so many aesthetic and ethnic particularities in music (cf. also Raussert 12) and “constitutes, at best, a marketing category” (Connell/Gibson 153). Underlining Susan J. Smith’s observation that “music is integral to the geographical imagination” (238), this essay provided some theoretical cornerstones a topography might draw upon, as well as some preliminary glimpses into the benefits of fruitfully combining the analysis of music and the ‘traveling of sounds’ with the notion of place.


1. I do not use the terms ‘local’ and ‘global’ as denoting two separate spheres characterized by a fixed set of elements here; rather, they are dynamically ‘entangled’ with one another, connected, interdependent, with the local being understood “not as a definite space but rather as a series of discourses … as a contested space… as a multiply articulated space” (Bennett, Popular 63/64).

2.Cf. Connell and Gibson, who stress the importance of urban environments for processes of transcultural exchange, pointing out that “Cities are nodes in inter¬national mediascapes – centres of production and retailing – and hosts to multicultural communities and their diverse musical texts and spaces” (160).

3.Some of the most outstanding and illuminating theoretical contributions about the intricate relationship between popular music and place include Bennett (2000), Whiteley, Bennett, and Hawkins (2004), and Connell and Gibson (2003). Of particular relevance for this essay is chapter 8 of their study (“A World of Flows: Music, mobility, and transnational soundscapes”), in which they focus on the interdependence of music and migration (cf. 160-91) and provide a number of thought-provoking exemplary analyses to illustrate the emergence of what they call “transnational urban soundtracks” (171).

4.Actually, a number of other contributions referred to in this paper (e.g. Connell/Gibson and Whiteley/Bennett/Hawkins) also draw on examples from the North American context. Yet, they are not primarily concerned with urban popular music in the US.

5.The details on the Californian punkrock scene as well as on the development of Californian ska in are taken from the respective entries at (31 July 2009. and 31 July 2009. ). Of course, I am well aware of the problems inherent in referencing this source. Yet, these two highly informative and very well-researched articles show the online encyclopedia at its best. General Information on the band’s biography and on the albums is taken from the band’s official website.

6.Another restriction of my analysis lies in its focus on aspects of production and their context-dependence. However, a ‘thick description’ of the relationship between music and place would also need to consider aspects of reception, as “the search for social and cultural meanings in popular music texts inevitably involves an examination of the urban and rural spaces in which music is experienced on a day-to-day basis” (Bennett, “Music” 2).

7.In general, as Connell and Gibson argue, “where any form of popular music has provided some link with place and community (including the fans), displayed some sense of history, or claimed some heritage (in instruments, local performers or ethnicity) and evoked lived experience there have been claims to authenticity” (43).

Works Cited

Béhague, Gerard. “Bridging South America and the United States in Black Music Research.” Black Music Research Journal 22.1 (2002): 1-11.

Bennett, Andy. Popular Music and Youth Culture: Music, Identity and Place. New York: St. Martin’s P, 2000.

———. “Music, Space and Place.” Whiteley et al. 2-8.

Berríos-Miranda, Marisol, and Shannon Dudley. “El Gran Combo, Cortijo, and the Musical Geography of Cangrejos/Santurce, Puerto Rico.” Caribbean Studies 36.2 (2008): 121-51.

California Street Music. 31 July 2009. <>.

Carney, George O. “Introduction: The Rhythms of Geography: A Thirty-Five-Year Odyssey.” The Sounds of People and Places: A Geography of American Music from Country to Classical and Blues to Bop. Ed. George O. Carney. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003. 1-11.

———. “Music and Place.” The Sounds of People and Places: A Geography of American Music from Country to Classical and Blues to Bop. Ed. George O. Carney. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003. 203-16.

Connell, John, and Chris Gibson. Sound Tracks: Popular Music, Identity and Place. London/New York: Routledge, 2003.

Fairley, Jan. “The ‘Local’ and the ‘Global’ in Popular Music.” The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock. Ed. Simon Frith, Will Straw, and John Street. New York: Cambridge UP, 2001. 272-89.

Frith, Simon. “Pop Music.” The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock. Ed. Simon Frith, Will Straw, and John Street. New York: Cambridge UP, 2001. 93-108.

Greenblatt, Stephen. “A Mobility Studies Manifesto.” 31 July 2009. 27-28.

———. “Racial Memory and Literary History.” PMLA 116.1. Special Topic: Globalizing Literary Studies (2001): 48-63.

Hall, Stuart. “New Ethnicities.” Black British Cultural Studies. Ed. Houston Baker, Manthia Diawara, and Ruth Lindeborg. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1996. 163-72.

Leyshon, Andrew, David Matless, and George Revill. “The Place of Music [Introduction].” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series 20.4 (1995): 423-33.

Lo, Jaqueline, and Helen Gilbert. “Toward a Topography of Croos-Cultural Theatre Praxis.” TDR 46.3 (2002): 31-53.

Raussert, Wilfried. “Introduction: Traveling Sounds: Music, Migration and Identity Formation.” Traveling Sounds. Music, Migration, and Identity in the U.S. and Beyond. Ed. Wilfried Raussert and John Miller Jones. Münster: LIT, 2008. 9-21.

———, and John Miller Jones, eds. Traveling Sounds. Music, Migration, and Identity in the U.S. and Beyond. Münster: LIT, 2008.

———, and Michelle Habell-Pallán.”‘Cornbread and Cuchifritos’: Ethnic IdentityPolitics, Transnationalization, and Transculturation in American Urban Popular Music.” Conference Abstract, 2009. unpublished.

Slobin, Mark. “Micromusics of the West: A Comparative Approach.” Ethnomusicology 36.1 (1992): 1-87.

Smith, Susan J. “Soundscape.” Area 26.3 (1994): 232-40.

Voodoo Glow Skulls. Official Website. 31 July 2009. <>.

Whiteley, Sheila, Andy Bennett, and Stan Hawkins, eds. Music, Space, and Place: Popular Music and Cultural Identity. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004.


Voodoo Glow Skulls. Who Is, This Is? Dr. Strange, 1993.
———. Adicción, Tradición, y Revolución. Victory, 2004.
———. Southern California Street Music.Victory, 2007.

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