Blues, Funk, Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Hip Hop and Rap: A Research and Information Guide: Reference Reviews: Vol 25, No 5
Translator disclaimer

Blues, Funk, Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Hip Hop and Rap: A Research and Information Guide


Terry O'Brien (Deputy Librarian, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland)

Terry O'Brien, (2011) "Blues, Funk, Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Hip Hop and Rap: A Research and Information Guide", Reference Reviews, Vol. 25 Iss: 5, pp.48 - 50
The fulltext of this document has been downloaded 124 times since 2011

Music, Popular culture, Research
Review Number:
Review Subject:
Blues, Funk, Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Hip Hop and Rap: A Research and Information Guide Eddie S. Meadows
Publisher Name:
Place of Publication:
London and New York, NY
Publication Year:
978 0 415 97319 8 (print); 978 0 203 85472 1 (e‐book)
£90 $150
Review DOI:
Emerald Journal:
Reference Reviews
48 - 50
Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Noted jazz scholar and professor of ethnomusicology, Eddie S. Meadows has a considerable reputation in African‐American music. His publications include Jazz Research and Performance Materials (Meadows, 1995) and Jazz, Scholarship and Pedagogy (Meadows, 2006), the latter published as part of the Routledge Music Bibliographies (genres) series, a series to which the work being reviewed also belongs. Although expert particularly in the field of jazz, this work extends Meadow's expertise into the wider area of other African American musical styles, covering blues, funk, rhythm and blues (R&B), soul, hip hop and rap. Described as a “research and information guide”, this publication seeks to address a particular research gap, namely, that this is the first attempt at a scholarly annotated compilation of this combination of African American contemporary music styles. It is therefore a welcome and necessary addition to a field that traditionally has had limited reference resources. African American music styles such as rap, R&B and hip hop are global phenomena, recognized and popularized throughout the world, notes Meadows, “the breadth and depth of the research is reflective of a global interest in African American popular music”.

The approach of the book is traditional in terms of layout and feel. As a scholarly information guide, I suppose one would not expect photographs, or design features perhaps like timelines, but this does in my view give a rather “catalogue” feel to the book. There is little appeal in this resource for the common reader – students, researchers and scholars of music, ethnomusicology, music research, musical cultures and styles will, however, find value and content. This is a meticulous and scholarly resource that, while not inexpensive, is recommended for music research libraries, academic libraries and those seeking insight, research information and resources across the many musical styles and genres treated. Meadows himself recognizes the appeal of the book in deliberating setting it as an annotated sampling and as a “reference tool to increase the quantity and quality of scholarly research”.

Containing some 1,300 annotations, the book packs diverse references from different genres and styles into one source. To attempt to cover such a diverse and wide‐ranging number of genres is to be commended. The guide is broken down into three sections: Blues Resources, Funk, R&B and Soul resources and Hip Hop and Rap Resources. Each of these resources is in turn treated through multiple subcategories covering autobiographies, biography, reference, surveys, discographies, politics, literature, religion, photography and other genre specific issues. There are two helpful indices of authors and artists and of titles, organizations and places. There are four appendices essentially dealing with web sources. The section on the blues is extensive and also includes periodicals; the remaining three sections cover funk, R&B, soul, hip hop and rap, and a short listing on wider African American range of music web resources. The criteria for inclusion in the web listings is based on those sites that contribute rich and high quality content or innovation, examples include www.bluesworld.com and the Dodd Research Centre archive in Connecticut. The author acknowledges the UK as a major resource/source of information particularly on R&B and soul. Last.fm – (www.last.fm) an internet radio and hugely popular music community is based in London, whilst – Hip Hop Connection (1988), the longest running hip hop magazine in the world is also originally a British publication. Other significant selected music resources include the Archives of African American Music and Culture (established in 1991) at Indiana University dedicated to “serious study and research of African American music”, the Cornell University Library Hip Hop Collection (1975‐1985) which gives an insight into early origins and influence of hip hop that evolved in the Bronx, the acknowledged bible of hip hop The Source, and VIBE, founded by Quincy Jones in 1993 embracing many aspects of urban culture.

Although the guide looks at English language sources first and foremost, there are some translated foreign language sources. The chronology covers from as early as 1920 up to 2008, and the focus is predominantly, but not entirely, on North America with references from as far a field as Cuba, India, France, New Zealand and Finland (www.soulexpress.net). Specific regional approaches are covered by Browne who writes about the popularity of soul among the working class of Northern England and of the influence of a German band – Boney M on the “culture and musicians of Russia” (ironically, Rasputin, one of their biggest, hits was not released in the Soviet Union because of the lyrics, nevertheless the band were one of the first western bands to play in the old USSR and remain popular in Russia today).

In the introduction, Meadows lists many of the sources used for the guide – books, articles, websites, online resources, popular and trade magazines, and significantly theses and dissertations. The use of graduate works is unusual but justified, not just because of a dearth of publications in funk, R&B and soul, but because the high numbers and quality of postgraduate works is “proof of their status as the most popular contemporary style for African American cultural and musical research”. Not only do they make an important and cutting edge contribution but add “to the scholarly discourse”. There are limited sources for hip hop/rap and consequently contemporary, popular and trade sources are also utilized. The brief essay and bibliography on research trends which precedes the resources also bear mention. Serious scholarly research began in the 1970s but the upsurge in “all areas of African American popular music” in the 1990s resulted in a “proliferation of research” – research types, methodologies, disciplines and perspectives. Hip hop and rap have become the “most prevalent” topics for African American popular music research, and this has resulted in the emergence of several reference resources. One such resource – the two volume Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia … (Hess, 2007) (RR 2008/234) is unfortunately omitted. Another unique feature of the guide is the treatment of selected works for younger readers (primarily teenagers) due in part to the limited resources in the area but also for the more varied perspective that many of these works offer. Although the work is a serious and scholarly one, we do learn that Donald Bogle was the first writer to apply the term “diva” to disco goddesses in 1980. Popular and well‐known contemporary artists such as Alicia Keys, Beyonce and Jay‐Z get bibliographic treatment and thirteen works alone are listed for Stevie Wonder. The mix of entries varies from Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, histories and surveys of the blues, biographies, regional studies to PhD entries on The Stylistic Analysis of Blues Lyrics (1977) and weighty citations such as Empowerment and Enslavement Rap in the Context of African‐American Cultural Memory (Florida University dissertation, 2006).

Hess, M. (2007), Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music and Culture, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 2 vols. OpenURL WATERFORD INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Meadows, E.S. (1995), Jazz Research and Performance Materials, 2nd ed., Garland, New York, NY. OpenURL WATERFORD INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Meadows, E.S. (2006), Jazz Scholarship and Pedagogy: A Research and Information Guide, 3rd ed., Routledge, London. OpenURL WATERFORD INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY