We’re delighted to support a call for papers for a special issue of Global Hip Hop Studies on hip hop and the internet, co-edited by CIPHER team member Steve (and Raquel Campos). The blurb for the call is as follows:
Special Issue: ‘It’s Where You’re @: Hip Hop and the Internet’
Internet technologies have become intertwined with almost every aspect of daily Western life, as demonstrated by the mass online migration of work, leisure and cultural activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three decades earlier, the Rakim lyric emphasizing ‘where you’re at’ coincided with the development of the first modern web browser (circa 1990). Now, with the emergence of virtual ciphers, online beat battles and hip hop chat rooms, where we are all @ is online.
This special issue of GHHS is targeted at exploring the relationship between hip hop and the internet, offering new perspectives on digital communication technologies and their impact on hip hop culture, as well as analysing the impact of hip hop culture on global online life, especially in non-Western contexts. We are particularly interested in research that reflects on the political, economic and social dynamics of hip hop culture as they intersect with internet technologies.
With examples spanning from DatPiff to TikTok, internet technologies have considerably altered the development and production of hip hop culture, creating new spaces and forms of mediation. Although digital technology and hip hop are no strangers to one another, elements of hip hop culture – especially from the global North – have appeared at the forefront of digital popular culture (for instance Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ meme template or the viral power of Lizzo’s flute-twerking). Hip hop accounted for more than one in every three pieces of music played across on-demand streaming services, according to a 2018 Nielsen Music report. Creative communities inhabit online platforms from Twitch to Discord. Rap critics on YouTube and Genius rake in millions of views. Evidently, there is a vast online community engaging with hip hop in various forms.
However, the online public sphere also disrupts many of the art form’s analogue foundations – vinyl, block/house parties and spray paint – unsettling and reconfiguring critical aspects of locality, authenticity and identity through digital assemblages of mediation, corporatization and commercialization. How are notions and relationships of locality, visibility and anonymity in hip hop scenes altered by online tools? How do digital avatars act and become understood as creative participants and how are they linked to offline practices in the genre’s production of scenes? How does all of this operate in the shadows – or even the spotlight – of corporate big-data mining and oligopolization? We encourage researchers to reflect both on the opportunities and challenges of hip hop in online spaces.
Disciplinary focus may include, but is not limited to hip hop studies, internet studies, popular music studies, digital anthropology, digital sociology, communication studies, media studies, cultural studies, fan studies, human-computer interaction, social computing, education and psychology.