Hip-hop is a competitive form of popular culture characterized by an on-going process of aesthetic renewal and reproduction that is expressed through carefully selected media and communications technologies. Hip-hop is also a segment of the pop music industry that manufactures a wide range of commercial products featuring stereotypical images of young black people. These stereotypes disproportionately mark young black men and rarely reflect the technical sophistication and cultural literacy mobilized in hip-hop expression. This thesis begins with a reading of hip-hop culture through its use of media technologies, moves on to a historical examination of the hip-hop mixtape economy, and concludes with an analysis of the “Crank Dat” online dance craze. Foregrounding expressive deployment of media and communications technologies in hip-hop challenges damaging stereotypes with compelling narratives of young black men driven by a spirit of competition, creativity, and technical innovation.
About Kevin Driscoll
Kevin Driscoll is an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia where he specializes in technology, culture, and communication. His recent research concerns alternative histories of the internet, the politics of amateur telecommunications, and the moral economy of consumer software. In collaboration with Julien Mailland from Indiana University, he published Minitel: Welcome to the Internet, a cultural and technological history of the French videotex network (MIT Press, 2017). His next book, The Modem World, traces a pre-history of social media through the dial-up bulletin board systems of the 1980s and 1990s (Yale University Press, 2022).