Hip Hop Samples Jazz: Dynamics of Cultural Memory and Musical Tradition in the African American 1990s

Perchard, Tom. 2012. 'Hip Hop Samples Jazz: Dynamics of Cultural Memory and Musical Tradition in the African American 1990s'. In: Unofficial Histories. Bishopsgate Institute, London. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Sampling is the extraction and collaging of snatches of pre-existing musical recordings, and since hip hop’s beginnings in the late-1970s the technique has been central to that style’s methodology and identity. Early scholarly work on hip hop – published in the mid-1990s by American writers like Tricia Rose, William Eric Perkins and Kyra D. Gaunt – tended to consider sampling as a historically significant practice, one through which the music’s producers constructed memorials to, and continued the traditions of, earlier African American music. But more recently this view has been challenged: in his book Making Beats (2004) Joseph Schloss contends that creative pragmatics, and the search for raw materials, have always been more important to producers than any cultural-historical concerns. In this talk I’ll explore these issues by way of an examination of hip hop in the early-1990s, and specifically the uses that many groups – most notably Gang Starr and A Tribe Called Quest – were then beginning to make of jazz recordings from decades past. Making reference to contemporary interview material, I aim to establish how, between the opposition of tradition and pragmatism, hip hop artists variously, and often simultaneously, described and enacted both continuations of and wariness towards an African American musical heritage.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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19 May 2012Completed

Event Location:

Bishopsgate Institute, London

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Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2013 07:44

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 10:00



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