Community music and urban leisure: The Liverpool One Project | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1752-6299
  • E-ISSN: 1752-6302



This article reports on research that aimed to understand, through a collaborative music-making studio project, how young urban musicians might build a community that could transgress perceived cultural and racialized boundaries and ‘reclaim’ the city centre through their lyrics and performances. The Liverpool One Project involved sixteen weeks of studio-based activities with 23 young people (ages 18–25) to create an urban music (e.g., rap, hip hop, soul, R&B, grime and dubstep genres) digital mixtape. Drawing from participants’ lyrics and my ethnographic descriptions of studio conversations, I highlight the participants’ grasp of their sociological imaginations (Mills 1959): their ability to locate music and leisure at the intersections of biography, history and society. The sociological imagination further allows the crucial differentiation between individual ‘personal troubles’ and broader, structural ‘public issues’. The Liverpool One Project illustrated this critical ability, as participants (re)constructed and contested where they and urban music more generally ‘belong’ in Liverpool’s newly regenerated city centre.


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