In a nutshell, The New Blue Music is an intellectual look at the beginnings of hip-hop and funk. Rhythm
and blues, more economically designated as R&B, was a purely American form of music that sprang from the African American community during the 1940s. In 1923, as the book describes, the Okeh record company dubbed the music they were creating for a primarily black audience as "race records." By the late
'40s, race became a pejorative description and was replaced by rhythm and blues records.
It's the fascinating evolution of a style that
has carried over into virtually every facet of music from funk and rap to soul, blues, jazz and gospel.
The author, a faculty member at Hume-Fogg Academic High School in Nashville, Tennessee, charts the course
of R&B from 1950 through 1999 by choosing and focusing on the top 25 songs from
each decade. One of the writer's theories is that R&B is not only still widely
pervasive among black musicians (it is), but that the style has experienced a "re-Africanization" of some of the original elements. Though you'd be hard pressed to hear any original R&B elements in a Diddy track, his point is well presented.
This is not for the faint of heart. Pull up a chair and put on your reading specs for this one - it's a tough road but worth the journey.