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Trip-hop described some of the 1990s' best music, and it was one of the decade's most revealing bad ideas.


The music itself was an intoxication of beats, bass, and voice. It emerged amid the social tensions of the late 1980s, and as part of hip-hop's rise to global dominance. It carried the innovations of Jamaican soundsystem culture, the sweet refuge of Lovers Rock, the bliss of club jazz dancefloors and post-rave chill-out rooms. It went mainstream with Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, DJ Shadow, Kruder & Dorfmeister, and Björk; and with record labels like Ninja Tune and Mo' Wax. To the artists' despair, the music was tagged with a silly label and packaged as music for the boutique and the lounge; made respectable with awards and acclaim.


But the music at its best still sounds experimental and dramatic; and its influence lingers through artists like FKA twigs, Sevdaliza, James Blake, Billie Eilish, and Lana Del Rey. This short book is a guide to 'trip-hop' in its context of the weird 1990s: nostalgia and consumerism; pre-millenium angst and lo-fi technology; casual exoticism amid accelerating globalization and gentrification. This book presents a survey of the music and its leading artists, packed with recommended listening, essential tracks, great remixes, and under-recognized albums.


  • RJ Wheaton

    Guides readers through the genre of trip-hop as the first book on the genre in 20 years, right at a time when trip-hop is making a revival in both underground scenes and popular artists.
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  • Book Details

    Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic
    Publication Date: 17-11-2022
    Format: Paperback
    176 pages
  • About the Author

    RJ Wheaton lives in Toronto and works in book publishing. He has been writing about music for twenty years and his work has appeared in outlets including The Oxford American and DaCapo's Best Music Writing series. He is the author of Portishead's Dummy (2011) in Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series.

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