This chapter focuses on some of the black humours in dance music during the last decade. My examples include MCs/rappers Dizzee Rascal, Sway and M.I.A., as well as recordings from electronic genres such as Dubstep. They foreground surveillance of the racialized subject and the evocation of ‘troubled’ spaces. The sounds, images and commentary circulate affective energies and sensations that are dark and pleasurable. They offer social critique but are also integrated into the contemporary economies and hierarchies of cultural difference. The star musician, the transnational collaboration, the genre or local scene all mediate affects and geographies strongly marked by fear and paranoia, anger and melancholia. They do this through figures such as criminals, zombies, ghosts, hooded figures and other scary monsters. The modes of the gothic and horror, gangsterism, science fiction and tabloid news reportage are deployed, sometimes with earnestness but more often than not through carnivalesque humour, unruly gestures, postcolonial mimicry and pantomime.3 Hip-hop, dancehall and grime rely on microphone techniques, stylized urban realism and aggressive articulations of the self. Dub,
techno and other types of electronica are renowned for immersion in repetitive sound, their spatial imaginaries or virtual spaces. The music has its vocabulary of sound effects designed for club sound systems and personal music players: hooks like gunshots, helicopters, heavy metal guitar riffs, ‘foreign’ vocals, funky synths, sub-bass lines, and spatializing techniques like echo and reverb. I am interested in how these recordings and associated videos, CD packaging and music writing mediate affects such as paranoia in this period, and how these affects are marked by racial and ethnic differences. I do not seek to argue that this popular music reflects the zeitgeist.