Conclusion – Black Noise: Re-composition in the Last Gilded Age

In the conclusion, “Black Noise: Re-composition in the Last Gilded Age,” I reflect on the years since Watch the Throne’s release in 2011, considering what has come to pass culturally, economically, and politically. Examining the deep ambivalences of our historical moment through the lenses of Black Lives Matter, Occupy, MeToo, Trumpism, and the politics of white resentment, I show how the album proved prescient; that long-promised freedoms for some—including the “human right to swagger”—have indeed been perceived as existential threats for others.

To these telling developments, I relate Achille Mbembe’s work on the long legacy of Afrodiasporic “repertoires of practices of survival” and the more recent “blueprint for social resistance and affirmation” that Tricia Rose finds in hip hop’s Black noise. I project the luxury rap album’s claims to the future against the deeply troubling present state of geopolitics to conclude that our racial capitalist patriarchy—and the current global alignment, writ large—is in its last throes, for better or for worse.

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