A few ideas I've been kicking around as I study for an exam on the relationship between IP and creativity ..
My program has a field exam that you design yourself, so I built a little reading list and worked on some questions, and here I am writing about it which is part of studying. no it is, actually, because the exam is me explaining the key ideas on these issues, and I found myself wanting to practice explaining. But I will give more backstory here than I would in an exam.
I was invited to join the Writers Block, with hip-hop academic luminaries (I feel quite the satellite, or comet maybe).
I'm honored to have been invited to participate, and after reading and talking a bit with people in the scene, I've started to wonder: who is talking about hip-hop as dance music?
Being mostly an instrumentals-focused dj myself, and a dj who focusing on dancing, I'm interested in this.. where is meaning, when people are dancing? because it seems like most of the attention on hip-hop is on the MCs, and on sort of professionalized dancing like b-boying/b-girling.. but what about the fact that hip-hop is the default party music in the US? is that not considered what hip-hop is about?
why is that?
It's important. Most of the hip-hop scholarship I've read focuses on authors - on vocalists and producers. And on trying to define almost anything valuable in hip-hop as "legitimate" authorship. This (authorship/originality) is is the way you need to frame yourself if you want to claim copyright ownership - but how much does it really describe what's important about the experience of the music?
I think we need to look at the whole social environment of music, which includes the people sometimes called the "audience." Again, I'll put forward: the difference between "audience" and "artist" or between "reception" and "production" is a difference that's drawn partly in order to gain status, to parcel out rights. I don't think it's a coincidence that that is how copyright works - by assigning rights mostly based on which category you fit into.
fans, dancers, audiences - these folks make the music as much as the folks called "artists." I don't just mean that someone we see in a club dancing madly may go home and make music inspired by that experience later. Although that is certainly true and important. While artists obviously love other people's music and draw on it. Again, true and important.
But beyond that, the experience of dancing madly to hip-hop (or whatever) is part of what creates the music as it is experienced, and what gives it value and meaning. If fostering musical creativity is important (what (c) law people often care about), or if understanding what hip-hop is about is important, then fans, audiences, the so-called "receivers" need to get their due attention here.
The distinction between "author" and "consumer" is only interesting in terms of what it can get you in our current system. Culture is socially produced and all the elements are necessary. So the "audience" for hiphop, including dancers, and the way hip-hop works on, in and for the body, should not be left out of our story or our analysis.