The artistic and creative importance of hip hop, house and techno has been clear for over a decade, but its more recent commercial strength has made dance music unignorable. Money talks. Hip hop was recently the subject of a three-part TV series which made much not just of the creativity and longevity of the music - it had its origins in New York in the late Seventies - but also its current position as the highest grossing music genre in the world. In Britain, big business has profited from the cultural changes brought about by the 'rave revolution': during the Nineties dance music magazines have gone from being small subscriber-only affairs to paper shop bestsellers; a premier league of DJs have made fortunes; some nightclubs have become brands worth millions of pounds, others have been catalysts in the regeneration of British cities (the Hacienda in Manchester and 'Cream' in Liverpool being the two clearest examples). So much has changed that the leading lights in dance music - especially top DJs - who were once considered outsiders in the music business have become a new establishment, holding on determinedly to their powerful positions but ripe for removal; like those who controlled the Light Programme in the years before rock'n'roll.
LRB 6 January 2000 | PDF Download