Rap has cultivated a mainstream audience and become a multimillion-dollar industry by promoting highly visible and often controversial representations of blackness. Sounding Race in Rap Songs argues that rap music allows us not only to see but also to hear how mass-mediated culture engenders new understandings of race. The book traces the changing sounds of race across some of the best-known rap songs of the past thirty-five years, combining song-level analysis with historical contextualization to show how these representations of identity depend on specific artistic decisions, such as those related to how producers make beats. Each chapter explores the process behind the production of hit songs by musicians including Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the Sugarhill Gang, Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, N.W.A., Dr. Dre, and Eminem. This series of case studies highlights stylistic differences in sound, lyrics, and imagery, with musical examples and illustrations that help answer the core question: can we hear race in rap songs? Integrating theory from interdisciplinary areas, this book will resonate with students and scholars of popular music, race relations, urban culture, ethnomusicology, sound studies, and beyond.
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Loren Kajikawa is Assistant Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at the University of Oregon, where he teaches courses on a variety of twentieth- and twenty-first-century musical practices.
Nathan Georgitis, Archivist for the Randall V. Mills Archives of Northwest Folklore, is working with the Oregon Folklife Network and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Culture & Heritage Department to digitize historical tribal sound recording for preservation and access. Nathan installed an audio preservation workstation and trained a tribal archivist in preservation recording. Tribal archivists Valerie Switzler and Dana Smith have now digitized approximately 250 analog cassettes dating from the 1950s to the 1980s. The tapes contain documentation of the tribal languages of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute peoples, as well as pow wow songs, oral history interviews, stories and legends, and tribal council meetings. Among the most important recordings to the tribes are those documenting Washaat religious services, the Warm Springs Sahaptin language, and contemporary and historical uses of natural resources in the Columbia River watershed. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department awarded the project an Excellence in Oregon Heritage Award in 2014.
Dr. Sharon Sherman, Professor Emerita of Folklore and English at the University of Oregon, is featured on the website of the American Studies Association for her essay Screening American Studies: Intersections. Featured with Dr. William Ferris, Dr. Sherman writes of the interplay of documentary film-making an the field of American Studies. Both essays can be found here.
Dr. Lisa Gilman, Director of the Folklore Program, has been elected to the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society. Dr. Gilman’s three-year term runs from 2015-2017. Norma Cantú, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Jeff Todd Titon, Brown University, emeritus, were also elected to the Executive Board. Dr. Gilman has been an active participant and leader in the American Folklore Society for many years, and her new position will be a very positive asset to the American Folklore Society in the coming years.