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Kate Wolf speaks with writer Kelefa Sanneh about his debut book, Major Labels: A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres. An exhaustive, enthralling breakdown of the last 50 years in music, Major Labels diagrams the American sonic landscape, Alfred Barr-style, in the discrete yet overlapping categories of rock, R&B, country, punk, hip hop, dance, and pop; it also pays close attention to the proliferation of genres within genres, covering everything from thrash metal to glitter rock, quiet storm to hip hop soul, and many more. The book reveals what these divisions mean not only for the way music gets made, but how it’s listened to, and by whom. In conversation, we learn what inspired, and continues to inspire, one of our leading music writers.

Also, Cynthia Cruz, author of The Melancholia of Class, returns to recommend a collection of writings by the late Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures.