Wednesday, December 1, 2021

"Critical Excess"

New from the University of Michigan Press: Critical Excess: Watch the Throne and the New Gilded Age by J. Griffith Rollefson.

About the book, from the publisher:

Jay-Z and Kanye West’s 2011 Watch the Throne is a self-avowed “luxury rap” album centered on Eurocentric conceptions of nobility, artistry, and haute couture. Critical Excess performs a close reading of the sonic and social commentary on this album, examining how the album alternately imagines and critiques the mutually reinforcing ideas of Europe, nobility, old money, art, and their standard bearer, whiteness. Reading the album alongside Black critical theory and work on the prophetic nature of music, Rollefson argues that through their performance of black excellence, opulence, and decadence, Jay-Z and Kanye West poured gas on the white resentment of the Obama presidency—a resentment that would ultimately spill over into public life, make audible the dog whistling of the Far Right, and embolden white supremacists to come out from under their rocks. Ultimately, Rollefson argues, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s performance of what Rollefson calls “critical excess” on this album exceeds the limits of conspicuous consumption and heralds the final stage of late capitalism—“the New Gilded Age.”
Visit the Critical Excess website.

The Page 99 Test: Flip the Script.

--Marshal Zeringue