‘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
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.
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.
“This playlist features all the tunes and bands mentioned by name in It’s a London Thing. It is not comprehensive as a lot of the underground dance music of the 1990s is not available on Spotify, but it gives a flavour of the times. It starts in the 80s, when punk and reggae were my first introduction to the power of popular music, moves back and forth in time, from the origins of ska and soul to rare groove, acid house and jungle, and I hope gives a powerful taste of the heady musical cultures of then, and now, in London.” Caspar Melville.
It’s a London thing in available now! You can order your copy and read a sample chapter here.
Listen to Caspar talking about the book on the Soho Radio show, Jocks & Nerds.
Listen to Caspar on the Robert Elms show.
Listen to Caspar on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed.
Read an interview with Caspar in Music Journalism Insider.
Read and listen to the newsletter/playlist Caspar put together for Jed Hallam’s Love Saves The Day newsletter.
Listen to Caspar’s podcast interview with the New Books network.
Watch Caspar’s MUP Armchair Event.
Watch Caspar talk about his book at the London Calling IASPM Conference 2020.