I find it increasingly problematic to write analytically about ‘diaspora and music’ at a time of war. It seems inconsequential; the culture industry is not much more than a distraction; a fairytale diversion to make us forget a more sinister amnesia behind the stories we tell. This article nonetheless takes up debates about cultural expression in the field of diasporic musics in Britain. It examines instances of creative engagement with, and destabilization of, music genres by Fundamental and Asian Dub Foundation, and it takes a broadly culture critique perspective on diasporic creativity as a guide to thinking about the politics of hip-hop in a time of war. Examples from music industry and media reportage of the work of these two bands pose both political provocation and a challenge to the seemingly unruffled facade of British civil society, particularly insofar as musical work might still be relevant to struggles around race and war. Here, at a time of what conservative critics call a ‘clash of civilizations’, I examine how music and authenticity become the core parameters for a limited and largely one-sided argument that seems to side-step political context in favour of sensationalized—entrenched—identities and a mythic, perhaps unworkable, ideal of cultural harmony that praises the most asinine versions of multiculturalism while demonizing those most able to bring it about. Here the idea that musical cultures are variously authentic, possessive or coherent must be questioned when issues of death and destruction are central, but ignored
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