Abstract Hip Hop is a genre of music that blends elements of hip hop with avant-garde sounds and experimental production. It is characterized by unconventional production techniques, abstract and often surrealistic lyrical content, and the use of samples from a wide range of sources.
The ethos of abstracthiphop is grounded in five fundamental tenets: properties of flow, layering, and rupture; principles of productive consumption; production of excessive publicity or promotion–what hip-hop affiliates refer to as “hype”; embracing individual and communal entrepreneurship; and a committed politics of action and loyalty.
These tenets of the ethos of abstracthiphop are built upon an understanding of the black diasporic traditions of expressive performance that hip hop issues from.
In the United States, these traditions of expressive expression crystalized in 1970s New York City and proliferated into a potent ethos of the subaltern embraced within socially marginalized youth communities throughout the world (Harris-Lacewell 2010). This article explores this origin story by excavating hip hop’s ethos, starting from the proposition that hip hop represents a distinct yet pervasive expression of contemporary black subjectivity.
As a recent branch of black diasporic cultural expression, hip hop consistently cultivates a disposition of difference and opposition. At times this quality encourages the expressive uniqueness that enables hip-hop entrepreneurs to materially and symbolically prosper in capitalist society, but it also takes deep roots in moral dispositions that challenge historical and ongoing inequities–most particularly those surrounding race and class.