In our quarterly reading list, we select some of our favourite books from outside Velocity Press. As nights draw in and queues into venues get colder, many of us are looking for fresh new music reads to stay in with as we head toward the end of the year. From hip-hop history to vinyl archives and Madchester memoirs, here are our favourite winter picks.
While to many record collecting is the smell of dusty vinyl, obsessive crate curation and eye-watering Discogs prices, for DJ/Producer Questlove it is an accessible form of ethnography and social history.
In Music is History the renowned DJ/Producer adventures into the record-collecting practice’s potential to inform us about our past. Using his extensive record collection and music knowledge as a framework, he guides the reader through American history from 1971-present. If you’ve ever wondered why the 70s sounded like they did, or how the Blaxploitation era produced the ruthless efficiency and arrangements of disco records, give Music is History a read.
The Come Up: An Oral History of the Rise of Hip-Hop
While Hip-Hop as a genre now dominates the internet on Soundcloud and Spotify, much of the sound’s pre-internet origin story remains unknown to newer generations of Hip-Hop fans. If you’re one of these heads looking for a comprehensive chronicle of the sound’s earliest DIY days, or even if you’re an older fan looking to fill the gaps in your rap knowledge, Jonathan Abram’s latest title is worth a read.
Featuring over 300 interviews with both the biggest names in the game like Ice Cube and DMC, and lesser-known early forefathers like Grandmaster Caz, The Come Up is your next tome of knowledge about all things hip-hop. If you’re keen to read more rap history, you can also read our feature on Maori hip-hop from Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Buzzin: The Nine Lives of a Happy Monday
Since his early days twisting melons as dealer/dancer for The Happy Mondays, it’s undeniable that Mark ‘Bez’ Berry has been hustling and living off his wits. From milking cashid house for all it’s worth at rave-themed bingo nights, to a Big-Brother-winning reality tv career that Matt Hancock would be proud of and his more recent bee conservation projects, the groovy Mancunian definitely has some stories to tell.
For the first time you can find all these dubious anecdotes in one tome from the man himself. The worker bee is the city of Manchester’s official and while Bez has led anything but a normal working life and career, Buzzin is a written tribute to the grifting spirit of one of the North-West’s biggest pop culture icons.
Destination Dancefloor: A Global Atlas of Dance Music and Club Culture From London to Tokyo, Chicago to Berlin and Beyond
An encyclopaedia of local scenes, clubs and DJs around the world, Destination Dancefloor is your new global passport to electronic music escapism. Written by ex-Mixmag maestro Duncan Dick about over 70 cities worldwide, if you’ve ever been curious about the similarities and differences between dance scenes across the globe, then Destination Dancefloor is definitely worth a read. Rob Smith even recently interviewed Duncan for us about the process of writing the book.
Wheels of Light: Designs for British Light Shows 1970-1990
Wheels of Light is a new title from audiovisuual psych wizard DJ Food. A swirling deep-dive into the obscure world of 70’s projection disc art it brings together the image disks by seminal UK projection companies; Optikinetics, Pluto and Orion, and tells their story. From abstract psychedelia to alien planets, the designs for these rotating are a twisting snapshot of the fluid creativity of an era.