Theoretical Approaches to Quotation in Hip-Hop Recordings

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Intertextuality is pervasive in multiple forms of popular music, but is arguably most overtly presented in hip-hop music and culture. While much academic work has focused on linking practices of quotation, reference, allusion and Signifyin(g) in hip-hop to earlier forms of African-American music, the main purpose of this article is to outline and illustrate the variety of ways that one can borrow from a source text or trope and ways that audiences identify and respond to them. Distinctions between allosonic and autosonic quotations (Lacasse), ‘intention’ versus sociohistorically situated interpretations (Nattiez), as well as ‘textually signalled’ and ‘textually unsignalled’ intertextuality (Dyer), help create a more detailed taxonomy within the genre. These and other distinctions, which transcend narrow discourses that only focus on ‘sampling’ (digital sampling), provide a toolkit that sets a context for more nuanced discussions of borrowing practices and offers broader implications for intertextuality within and outside of hip-hop culture. By drawing from a range of examples (e.g. The Pharcyde, Dr Dre, Xzibit), this article demonstrates that a thorough investigation of musical borrowing in hip-hop requires attention to the texts (hip-hop recordings), their reception and wider cultural contexts.

Theoretical Approaches to Quotation in Hip-Hop Recordings - ResearchGate. Available from: [accessed Mar 26, 2015].
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-209
Number of pages22
JournalContemporary Music Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Special Issue on Musical Quotation, eds. Lauren Redhead and Pwyll ap Sion

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Black Humanities
  • Decolonisation


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