Scratching the digital itch: A political economy of the hip hop DJ and the relationship between culture, industry, and technology
Sirois, Andre G., 1980-
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Sirois, Andre G., 1980-
This study analyzes the culture, history, and technology of the hip hop DJ in order to tease out the relationships between industrial and cultural practices. The following research questions structured the investigation: 1) What historical developments in intellectual property rights and music playback and delivery formats contribute to a political economy of the hip hop DJ; 2) what has been the role of intellectual property exchange and standardization in the DJ product industry relevant to hip hop DJs; 3) how are the meanings involved in the consumption of and production with analog and digital technologies related; and 4) does hip hop DJ culture represent convergence and collective intelligence? Employing various qualitative methods, the research includes interviews with influential hip hop DJs, executives at record labels, distributors, retailers, and DJ technology manufacturers. The study also reviews the histories of music playback technologies and standardization in relation to intellectual property laws. With political economic, cultural Marxism and new media theories as its framework, this study analyzes hip hop DJs as the intersection of corporate culture and youth culture. The research broadly addresses the hip hop DJ's role in building the industries that cater to hip hop DJing. Specifically, the study analyzes the politics of how hip hop DJs' intellectual properties and subcultural capital have been harnessed by companies in various industries as a way to authenticate, improve, and sell product. The study also examines consumption as production, collective intelligence, and how digital technologies are negotiated within this culture. The research suggests that hip hop DJ culture and the DJ technology and recording industries are not necessarily discrete entities that exert force upon one another. Rather, they are involved in a cultural economy governed by technocultural synergism, which is a complex interplay between agency and determinism guided by both corporate and cultural priorities. The study also offers a networked theory of innovation and creation over the individual genius emphasized in U.S. intellectual property laws to suggest that hip hop DJ culture is an open source culture.