Coughing up fire

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 1988 Number 5

Coughing up fire
Les Back pages -


Looks at soundsystem dances, where young black men - and sometimes women - ‘toast’ live lyrics over recorded music: generally reggae, but sometimes also including soul, rap and hip-hop. The soundsystems are run by groups and different individuals have different functions - Operator, MC, Selector - while different groups battle it out in competitions. The superimposed lyrics are often highly political and the atmosphere of the dances can be dangerous, with many participants carrying knives. Although traditionally a very male phenomenon, women have been attracted by different musical genres such as soul, and some women MCs have begun to perform.

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To cite this article
Les Back (1988) Coughing up fire, New Formations, 1988(5), -

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