What is it about?

In this paper I argue that the SoundCloud rap movement of the 2010s signalled not only a crisis of the rap-image (the specific ways in which rap had been traditionally represented and produced), but also a moment of intense aesthetic creativity and experimentation. Following Luciana Parisi’s notion of alien thinking and Kodwo Eshun’s work on Afrofuturism, I see the SoundCloud rap movement as exhibiting a type of alien creativity, existing outside the human but having real effects upon the human aesthetic experience. Through techniques such as Auto-Tune, mumbling, repetition, ad-libs, triplets, rappers were able to create a radically new aesthetic form that pushed the limits of digital music production and listening. I present SoundCloud rap tracks as virtualities of aesthetic origination, with rappers and producers playing with the alien, the unknown, the incomputable and the incomprehensible, which are provided to them via cybernetic technologies. These virtualities become ways of bringing forth the alien in the form of new syntaxes, new meanings, new aesthetics and new modes of being, pushing the bounds of rap and popular music.

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Why is it important?

This paper links in the SoundCloud rap movement with emerging aesthetic dynamics that I describe under the term alien creativity.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Soundcloud Rap and Alien Creativity, Journal of Popular Music Studies, September 2021, University of California Press,
DOI: 10.1525/jpms.2021.33.3.125.
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