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Feenin: R&B Music and the Materiality of Blackfem Voices and Technology

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In Feenin, Alexander Ghedi Weheliye traces R&B music's continuing centrality in Black life since the late 1970s. Focusing on various musical production and reproduction technologies such as auto-tune and the materiality of the BlackFem singing voice, Weheliye counteracts the widespread popular and scholarly narratives of the genre's decline and death. He shows how R&B remains a thriving venue for the expression of Black thought and life and a primary archive of the contemporary moment. Among other topics, Weheliye discusses the post-disco evolution of house music in Chicago and techno in Detroit, Prince and David Bowie in relation to the appropriations of Blackness and Euro-whiteness in the 1980s, how the BlackFem voice functions as a repository of Black knowledge, the methods contemporary R&B musicians use to bring attention to Black Lives Matter, and the ways vocal distortion technologies such as the vocoder demonstrate Black music's relevance to discussions of humanism and posthumanism. Ultimately, Feenin represents Weheliye's capacious thinking about R&B as the site through which to think through questions of Blackness, technology, history, humanity, community, diaspora, and nationhood.

ISBN-13: 9781478025214

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Duke University Press

Publication Date: 11-03-2023

Pages: 296

Alexander Ghedi Weheliye is Malcolm S. Forbes Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University and author of Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human and Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity, both also published by Duke University Press.