Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Perchard, Tom. “Hip Hop Samples Jazz: Dynamics of Cultural Memory and Musical Tradition in the African American 1990s.” American Music 29 (Fall 2011): 277-307.

Scholarship on hip hop sampling tends to describe the practice in terms of cultural memory and musical tradition, but these concepts are often left unexamined and uncontextualized and are not adequately tested against hip hop producers’ own commentary on their work. The early 1990s turn to jazz as a sample source in hip hop provides a case study to develop this theory. The emergence of hip hop sampling as a topic of academic study in the 1990s was predicated on contemporary scholarship on cultural memory and tradition, particularly works envisioning black musical practices as spaces in which socialized memories are performed, shaping the way sampling was understood in theory. The practice of jazz sampling emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s with groups like Gang Starr, De La Soul, and particularly A Tribe Called Quest. The new subgenre of jazz rap was initially understood as a link between generations, demonstrating that jazz and hip hop both stem from the same roots. Although some critics and practitioners likened hip hop to jazz in their sonic citations and underground status, the core hip hop audience saw a clear divide between hip hop and jazz, which was perceived as being stuck in the past. The theory of hip hop sampling as generational reunification is similarly complicated by the low opinion of hip hop held by the older generation in the 1990s. Concurrent to the emergence of jazz sampling was a resurgence of jazz music and the creation of a jazz canon, projects led by Wynton Marsalis and his associates. However, the vast majority of jazz music sampled by producers in the 1990s was not from Marsalis’s canon. Instead, commercially successful jazz records of the 1970s—the antithesis to Marsalis’s idea of canonical jazz—became the primary source of samples, likely owing to their prominence in the childhoods of hip hop artists. With these complications, the traditional understanding of sampling as writing history does not capture the nuance of the practice of jazz sampling in hip hop.

Works: Gang Starr: Jazz Thing (283, 286, 289, 296); A Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory (283-84, 295)

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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