In 2001, Jace Clayton was an amateur DJ who recorded a three-turntable, sixty-minute mix called Gold Teeth Thiefand put it online to share with his friends. Within months, the mix became an international calling card, whisking Clayton away to a sprawling, multitiered nightclub in Zagreb, a tiny gallery in Osaka, a former brothel in São Paolo, and the atrium of MoMA. And just as the music world made its fitful, uncertain transition from analog to digital, Clayton found himself on the front lines of an education in the creative upheavals of art production in the twenty-first-century globalized world.
Uproot is a guided tour of this newly opened cultural space, mapped with both his own experiences and his relationships with other industry game-changers such as M.I.A. and Pirate Bay. With humor, insight, and expertise, Clayton illuminates the connections between a Congolese hotel band and the indie rock scene, Mexican surfers and Israeli techno, Japanese record collectors and hidden rain-forest treasure, and offers an unparalleled understanding of music in a digital age. Uproot takes readers behind the turntable decks to tell a story that only a DJ--and writer--of this caliber can tell.
In this exhilarating book, Clayton, aka DJ Rupture, guides readers on an international tour of various forms of music and music-making technologies within many cultures. Clayton travels to Morocco, for example, to find musicians using Auto-Tune, a technology that alters the pitch of recorded music or vocals; he discovers that the one element uniting the disparate uses of Auto-Tune is the voice itself, which "sings out at the heart of the contest between what we've inherited and what we may yet become." Clayton explores the ways that music travels these days and its international accessibility, observing that it's sometimes easier to buy Jamaican music in Japan than in Jamaica. He examines how corporate sponsorship compromises music, praising the band Fugazi for its resistance to such compromises and pointing to the band's success with a do-it-yourself approach to recording, distribution, and promotion. Clayton urges readers to embrace the power of music, recognizing its energetic and enduring capacity to capture and express shared emotions and to become a "memory palace with room for everybody inside."