The construction of jazz rap as high art in hip-hop music

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Multiple factors contributed to the elevation of jazz as "high art" in mainstream media reception by the 1980s. The stage was thus set for hip-hop groups in the late-1980s and early 90s (such as Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, and Digable Planets) to engage in a relationship with jazz as art and heritage. "Jazz codes" in the music, said to signify sophistication, helped create a rap-music subgenre commonly branded "jazz rap." Connections may be identified between the status of jazz, as linked to a high art ideology in the 1980s, and the media reception of jazz rap as an elite rap subgenre (in opposition to "gangsta" rap and other subgenres). Contemplation of this development leads to larger questions about the creation of hierarchies, value judgments, and the phenomenon of elite status within music genres
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-459
JournalJournal of Musicology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Black Humanities


  • A Tribe Called Quest
  • Digable Planets
  • hip-hop
  • popular music
  • jazz

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