Abstract Hip Hop is a subgenre of rap music that explores sound and production in an experimental and unconventional manner. Often called Leftfield or Alternative/Underground Hip Hop, the genre is often lyrically more complex and often has double meanings.
The Roots of Abstract Hip Hop
Abstract hip hop traces its roots back to 1970s New York City. In the midst of social and political upheaval, the musical movement embodied a potent ethos that crystallized within black diasporic traditions of expressive performance and rooted itself in the most marginalized communities across urban America.
The ethos of hip hop cultivates a disposition of difference and opposition, encouraging entrepreneurship that challenges the status quo. It also cultivates moral dispositions that challenge historical and ongoing inequities–mostly those surrounding race and class (Harris-Lacewell 2010).
Artists from the subgenre embrace a heightened attention to locality, promoting both self-promotion and collective community promotion. They frequently shout out the names of those closest to them and mention boroughs that are prominent in their lives. This emphasis on territoriality may very well have been fueled by its New York City origins, where distinctly identifiable boroughs existed in close proximity to one another and fought for control over space and resources (Forman 2002).
Rupture in Abstract Hip Hop
Rhythmic polyrhythms of hip hop are established through flirtations with and strategic embellishments of rupture. These exclamations, asymmetries, and rhythmic angularities produce a sense of spontaneity that attracts and engages affiliates.