Analog Turns Digital: Hip-Hop, Technology, and the Maintenance of Racial Authenticity

Rayvon Fouché

in The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195388947
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Analog Turns Digital: Hip-Hop, Technology, and the Maintenance of Racial Authenticity

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  • Music
  • Sound Studies
  • Ethnomusicology


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The history of the black diaspora is full with examples of the ways music has enabled various black cultural communities to cope with racial oppression. This article explains how sound-producing technology, in the form of vinyl records and turntables, functions within communities that endow these devices with cultural value. Hip-hop is used to center the discussion on ways in which turntables and vinyl records are attributed a racial authenticity not seen in other music communities where DJs exist. It begins with the premise that the hip-hop culture, similar to other music cultures, is a deeply technological way of life. Furthermore, it explores hip-hop and the emergence of digital vinyl systems and discusses hip-hop and race in the digital age. Finally, it suggests that the intersections of hip-hop, technology, and sound could help understand the ways the materiality of sound is embedded and circulated within society.

Keywords: cultural value; hip-hop; vinyl records; music communities; sound; digital age

Article.  10054 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Sound Studies ; Ethnomusicology

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