Forum From the Archives: Critic Kelefa Sanneh Charts Music History in ‘Major Labels’

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Music critic and author of "Major Labels," Kelefa Sanneh. (Jason Nocito)

In his new book “Major Labels,” journalist and music critic Kelefa Sanneh takes on the history of popular music through seven genres that have defined it: rock, R&B, country, punk, hip-hop, dance and pop. The book not only highlights key artists and events in music’s evolution over the last 50 years, but reveals how music is a tool to build and mold identity. In his chapter on punk music, Sanneh shares reflections of the genre’s pivotal role in his own coming of age. And while music is often celebrated for bringing people together, Sanneh is pointed in the ways people’s cherished music tastes and tensions between “mainstream” vs. “outsider” styles can be more antagonistic than unifying. Sanneh joins us to talk about “Major Labels.”


Kelefa Sanneh, author, "Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres"