Abstracthiphop is a unique and exciting subgenre of hip hop. It’s a combination of hard-hitting and cryptic lyricism mixed with wonky beat scene loops and stunning organic explorations. It’s been around for a long time now and goes way back to DJ Shadow and Prince Paul.
The ethos of hip hop is a unique and pervasive expression of contemporary black subjectivity that crystallized in the 1970s New York City, subsequently proliferating into a potent counter-hegemonic spirit embraced within socially marginalized youth communities throughout the world. As a black cultural form situated at the nexus of late-modernism and post-modernism, hip hop embraces contradiction by both privileging and undermining notions of what is real.
While the origin story of hip hop’s entrepreneurial drive and pursuit of wealth and status often draws attention to its early days, the underlying political character of hip hop’s ethos has received less attention. This character, while undoubtedly rooted in the economic impulses of its entrepreneurs, takes a deeper root in moral dispositions that challenge historical and ongoing inequities–most specifically, those surrounding race and class.
One aspect of hip hop voicing that has received comparatively little attention is the adlib vocal tracks, which replicate the live performance role of hype men (or women). These supplementary adlib vocal tracks are recorded in music recording studios and can include non-lexical but communicative sounds like grunts, ah-huhs, or sighs. These adlibs add to the layered vocal flow of hip-hop songs by punctuating certain words or phrases in the main vocal track through layering, thereby generating performative exclamations that gesture towards ensuing commotion.