It's a London thing

How rare groove, acid house and jungle remapped the city

By Caspar Melville

It's a London thing


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3125-6
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £15.99
  • Published Date: November 2019
  • BIC Category: Music, Music industry, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 20th Century, MUSIC / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, Society & social sciences / Cultural studies, London, Greater London, Human Geography, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Music Industry
  • Series: Music and Society


This book is a record of the Black music culture that emerged in post-colonial London at the end of the twentieth century; the people who made it, the racial and spatial politics of its development and change, and the part it played in founding London's precious, embattled multiculture.

It tells the story of the linked Black musical scenes of the city, from ska, reggae and soul in the 1970s, to rare groove and rave in the 1980s and jungle and its offshoots in the 1990s, to dubstep and grime of the 2000s. Melville argues that these demonstrate enough common features to be thought of as one musical culture, an Afro-diasporic continuum. Core to this idea is that this dance culture has been ignored in history and cultural theory and that it should be thought of as a powerful and internationally significant form of popular art.


'This book is rare and special. It combines loving appreciation of London's overlooked black music scenes with a richly detailed social history of their place in the evolving life of our city. There really is no other book like it. Caspar Melville knows because he was there.'
Paul Gilroy is a recovering vinyl junkie who teaches at UCL

'I've waited decades for a book like this to be written. Turning each page is like digging through the crates. Important connections, intersections and black sonic samples are weaved throughout the text like a seamless mix. Black British music deserves this kind of attention. It's an important piece of the puzzle of DJ and Club culture that has yet to be assembled in its entirety.'
Lynnée Denise is a renowned DJ and lecturer in African American studies at UCLA

'Caspar goes in deep! I am so proud to be part of the London clubland story he tells.'
Gilles Peterson is a club and BBC radio DJ and founder of Brownswood Recordings and Worldwide FM

'It's a London Thing is a compelling exploration of dance music history, inviting us to keep our eyes and ears glued to where the music comes from and what it can teach us.'
Ivan Mouraviev, Popular Music


List of figures
List of plates
Introduction: London's sonic space
1 Hostile environment: London's racial geography, 1960-80
2 Warehouse parties, rare groove and the diversion of space
3 From Ibiza to London: Brixton acid and rave
4 'A London Sum'ting Dis': diaspora remixed in the urban jungle
Epilogue: music and the multicultural city
Appendix: interviews for the book


Formerly a music journalist and editor of New Humanist magazine, Caspar Melville is a lecturer at SOAS, University of London, where he convenes the MA in Global Creative and Cultural Industries

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