The Ethos of Abstracthiphop

Abstracthiphop is a subgenre of hip hop music that combines elements of jazz, funk, soul, and electronic music with experimental and avant-garde sound production. It is characterized by its unconventional production techniques and abstract lyrical content.

The ethos of abstracthiphop (and other genres within hip hop) is defined by a set of fundamental tenets that are rooted in three primary practices: flow, layering, and rupture. These generative principles produce surplus meaning by positioning multiple strata of expressive materials on-top-of one another, or in close proximity to one another, to create a seamless (flow) or strategically punctuated (rupture) mix.

Productive Consumption:

The production of excessive publicity or promotion–what hip-hop affiliates refer to as “hype”–is another important dimension of the ethos of abstracthiphop. Excessive exposure to public attention enables rappers and other artists to achieve the type of fame that is most sought after in capitalist society.

Hype men and women frequently employ adlib vocal tracks to reinforce the polyrhythmic qualities of layered vocal flow as it is recorded. Such adlibs may include lyrical couplets that are repeated on-beat or a running commentary on the main vocal track.

Moreover, adlibs can also be used to add texture and meaning to the vocal performance of the song’s emcees. This textual augmentation can include non-lexical but communicative sounds such as grunts, ah-huhs, and sighs that are intended to create a sense of celebratory energy or commotion.

The malleability and refusal to be neatly characterized of the ethos of abstracthiphop, along with its propensity to self-correct, are key characteristics that enable it to be mobile across geographical and sociological boundaries while offering a certain level of resilience against attempts to demarcate and contain it.

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