Chamber Music | Granta

  • Published: 07/11/2019
  • ISBN: 9781783784042
  • 129x20mm
  • 384 pages

Chamber Music

Will Ashon

‘One of the most rewarding pieces of hip-hop criticism ever written’ Jeff Chang
‘Brilliant’ Giles Peterson
‘Will Ashon’s dazzling study gets to the heart of hip hop, pop culture and the history of contemporary America. Essential’ Matt Thorne
‘Each of these chambers contains wonders of history, destiny and mythology’ Margo Jefferson

Will Ashon tells, in 36 interlinked ‘chambers’, the story of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and how it changed the world. As unexpected and complex as the album itself, Chamber Music ranges from provocative essays to semi-comic skits, from deep scholarly analysis to satirical celebration, seeking to contextualise, reveal and honour this singularly composite work of art.

From the FBI’s war on drugs to the porn theatres of 42nd street, from the history of jazz to the future of politics, Chamber Music is an explosive and revelatory new way of writing about music and culture.

Like the work of art it takes as its subject, Ashon's book is stylistically loaded, reckless, funny, naked, thorough, thoughtful, mysterious, devastating, unrelenting, and compassionate. One of the most rewarding pieces of hip-hop criticism ever written

Jeff Chang, author, We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation

One of the most essential pieces of rap writing since Nelson George himself. Five mics.

Nikesh Shukla


Gilles Peterson

The Author

Will Ashon is the author of Chamber Music (Granta, 2018) Strange Labyrinth (Granta, 2017) and two novels. He previously ran BIG DADA records where his artists included Roots Manuva, MF DOOM, Kate Tempest and Diplo.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

Strange Labyrinth

Will Ashon

In litter-strewn Epping Forest on the edge of London, might a writer find that magical moment of transcendence? He will certainly discover filthy graffiti and frightening dogs, as well as world-renowned artists and fading celebrities, robbers, lovers, ghosts and poets. But will he find himself? Or a version of himself he might learn something from?

Strange Labyrinth is a quest narrative arguing that we shouldn’t get lost in order to find ourselves, but solely to accept that we are lost in the first place. It is a singular blend of landscape writing, political indignation, cultural history and wit from a startling new voice in non-fiction.

Will Ashon on

In Conversation | The Online Edition

In Conversation: Will Ashon and Greg Milner

Will Ashon & Greg Milner

‘The techniques of hip-hop are always evolving – does that make it an inherently unstable technology, and is that where much of its aesthetic excitement derives from?’