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'Jackin' for Beats': DJing for Citation Critique

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'Jackin' for Beats': DJing for Citation Critique
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  ISSN: 1941-0832 RADICAL TEACHER 20 http://radicalteacher.library.pitt.edu No. 97 (Fall 2013) DOI 10.5195/rt.2013.40  “’Jackin’ for Beats’”  : DJing for Citation Critique   by Todd Craig    “SU GODDESS HANDS,” SUHEIR HAMMAD, PHOTO BY CHRIS TINSON    RADICAL TEACHER http://radicalteacher.library.pitt.edu No. 97 (Fall 2013) DOI 10.5195/rt.2013.40 21 "Funk is the DNA of hip- hop. And sampling is the essence.” George Clinton Ghostface Killer :  “Nah sun! Lemme tell these niggas something, god: I don’t want niggas soundin’ like me……on NO album! Knaimsayin? For real, cuz I’ma approach a nigga, for real. I don’t want nobody soundin’ like me, for real sun. It’s bad enuf nigga, I don’t want nobody soundin’ like nobody from my Clan, man. Keep it real, git’cha own shit man, and be ORIGINAL!” Raekwon :  “Word up!”    GFK :  “That’s all man.”    From Ghostface Killer and Raekwon the Chef, “Shark Niggas (Biters)”, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…  , Loud/RCA, 1995. Just letting my brain storm: “  . . . there’s a breeze in the air that’s makin’ me think about this joint  . . . ”   icture this: about four years ago, you’re standing at the launch party of the 2 nd  edition of your first novel. You’re with your peoples who are in attendance. Mr.Len, whose doing a special guest spot for your launch, is killin’ his set in APT so ill, that when you’re standing outside with two of your peoples, resident DJ Rich Medina opens the door to go to the DJ booth and says  “yo Len, I  just wanted to say FUCK YOU sun…cuz you’re KILLIN’ it right now!!!” You speak to Len two days after the party and he tells you an interesting anecdote about how he had gotten a call the next afternoon, as there was a radio personality who was playing the same songs from his set that sounded quite reminiscient of the exact same set order. You’ve already gotten the word from the day before that the Twitter buzz was CRAZY from that night … word on the wire was it was the party of the night. And all you can think is “so Twitter’s buzzin’ ALL night, but you ain’t gon say that’s my sun, sun? Yeah, aight…”    At that point, I couldn’t deny there was something in the air, a funny type of cool breeze blowin’   through the trees that forced me to focus on the fact that this sound was in the air. It was clear to me that somebody was bitin’ my sun’s style and tryin’ to pass it off as his or her own…  ah, the foulness of it all. Somewhere along the line, people straight forgot that classic Masta Ace line from that classic posse cut entitled “The Symphony” (which, of course, appeared on the le gendary DJ Marley Marl’s album In Control: Volume 1 ): “I project my voice so it's right in the crowd/ There's a sign at the doo r: ‘No Bitin' Allowed!’/ And if you didn't read it, I suggest you do so/ or you'll be stranded, just like Caruso/ Sleep if ya wanna, ga'head, get some shut-eye/ A man broke his jaw tryin' to say what I/ say on the microphone/ you shoulda left it alone/ just for the record, let it be known” (Masta Ace). It only makes me think about the ways in which srcinality and borrowing have changed based on technology, the Internet and a whole slew of other forces. Masta Ace stated it clearly in 1988. Twenty-five years later, it seems the game done gon’ and changed, word. So I sat down to catch it before the wind flipped New England, and started to blow in another way –  a different direction, density and temperature. The Source …“ that sound comes from somewhere …“   In 2013, the wind in the academic air blows a chilly breeze entitled “plagiarism.” Flip through any College Handbook and you’re quick to find the “Statement of Academic Honesty and Integrity”; it starts in the handbook, appears on just about every forthcoming syllabus (especially in English classes), and becomes more complicated as the idea of “text” jumps off the page and into 21 st  century Internet and online spaces. For students, this idea is complicated by notions of “summary”,  “paraphrasing” and “citation” as well as  “cut”, “copy” and  “paste.” It seems that students have a blurred and complicated perception of what scholarly research looks like in academia. Scholars like Laura J. Davies, Bill Marsh, Dominic A. Sisti and numerous others continue to push the research and the conversation in regards to the plagiarism debate, and more specifically, how to address and curtail the infamous epidemic. With this conversation in mind, the concept of this article, “DJing for Citation Critique”, stems from a few sources. First and foremost, it is important to understand that the history of hip-hop sampling has been referred to throughout various academic texts as a borrowing, a new type of new media composition that is constantly working in the vein of archiving, quoting and citing –   paying homage to all those “sources” that come before it and through it. Alongside the research that positions Hip Hop sampling as a textual borrowing, a second contextual framework guides my concept of DJing-for-Citation-Critique. This fram ework emanates from Sarah Wakefield’s article entitled “Using Music Sampling to Teach Research Skills”, in which she explains that “music sampling provides a metaphor for skillful incorporation of quotations …  discussing, or better yet, playing a sampled song demonstrates to the class how quoted research should be used. The outside material ought to enhance their   statements and arguments, flowing smoothly rather than standing out” (358 -359). Wakefield is able to begin a student-centered conversation by highlighting the example of P. Diddy and his choices in sampling throughout his music career. The third piece of this conceptual framework si ts with Alastair Pennycook’  s work dealing with plagiarism, its connections to Western ideologies with regards to composing and the relationship between authorship, ownership and knowledge. In his essay entitled “Borrowing Others’ Words: Text, Ownership, Memory, and Plagiarism”, he promotes an alternative view of intertextuality over the archaic black-and- white term called “plagiarism”. Pennycook presents an interesting situation in terms of P    RADICAL TEACHER http://radicalteacher.library.pitt.edu No. 97 (Fall 2013) DOI 10.5195/rt.2013.40 22 academic citation with a layered quote where he reads an essay by Morgan citing Ann Raimes who quotes Giroux. When he read the Raimes piece, he sees that Raimes claims she is citing Faigley, who is citing Giroux. When he finds the Faigley source, he sees that Faigley seems to be paraphrasing Giroux; what becomes interesting in this conundrum is when he finds the actual Giroux text as referenced by Faigley in his bibliography: the phrase ‘t  heoretical depth and methodological refinement’ does not appear in the Giroux book on the page that Faigley references: (or at least in the copy I looked at).  And so, as these words and ideas circulate around the academic community, it becomes unclear quite what their srcins are. And does it matter?... within contemporary academic writing practices, with layers of citations, e-mail, cutting and  pasting, and so on, the adherence to supposed norms of authoriality are becoming increasingly hazy. (Pennycook 216) This moment clearly demonstrates a necessity for envisioning texts and citation methods in ways that model an everchanging landscape in English Studies, specifically how we as practitioners approach citation with regards to the 21 st  century new media writer. Simply put, technology has changed the outlook on citation and paraphrasing; how do we as English scholars begin to help our students envision this issue in a different way –  one that reflects the newly-arrived advent of digital technology and cyberspace that complicate the former parameters of the teaching of writing? Based on the intersection of these three conceptual frameworks, the aim of this article is to explore new ways to frame citation, quoting and plagiarism  ─   all of which can impact English composition classrooms  ─   by exposing us to the utilization and critique of the sampling in which Hip Hop DJs engage. This exposure can, at once, foster a new type of conversation, one that jettisons some of the archaic constraints of plagiarism as a “black and white” phenomenon, but it can also lay part of the groundwork for constructing key elements of DJ Rhetoric and Literacy. What Pennycook so eloquently demonstrates is an idea that appears in the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness”. In the film, the protagonist, Chris Gardner (Will Smith), says how in the Declaration of Independence, “Thomas Jefferson calls the English ‘the disturbers of our harmony.’” It interestingly demonstrates Pennycook’s theories on plagiarism: a Western ideology that constrains, constricts and inhibits students’ abilities to find their own voice in writing, as “plagiarism” becomes the disturber of their writing harmonies. With these layered concepts in mind, this article samples these three conceptual frameworks, using Pennycook to further Wakefield’s conversation about research skills and Hip Hop sampling. Since it has been further documented that the Hip Hop DJ has been at the historical forefront and burgeoning of hip-hop sampling, this writing theoretically functions similar to how the Hip Hop DJ both utilizes and critiques sampling. DJ Rhetoric and Literacy through the lens of the Hip Hop DJ allows us to look at this quandary in a different and innovative way. Pennycook’s idea of transgressive versus non-transgressive intertextuality has been quite the radical challenge to literature and composition scholars stuck in the engendered and traditional ideologies of plagiarism. However, this complex and organic understanding of intertextuality has been fully manipulated and exploited by the Hip Hop DJ, especially in the categorizing of music with three rhetorical terms: “biters”,  “jackers” and finally, “transformers”. Because the central argument of this article revolves around these three fluid categories, it is evident that the Hip Ho p DJ’s lens promotes Pennycook’s understanding of intertextuality in 21 st  century literacies in ways that the 20 th  century notion of plagiarism simply does not and will not work. Complicating the black-and-white of plagiarism to open up a conversation with in the new media technologies’ creation of the gray areas presents a more fruitful understanding of citation, paraphrasing and quoting for a community of writers. So in order to do this, we need to do a litle work  ─  take this upcoming section as a sample of the samplings. Lemme find it: “ . . . the OFFICIAL ‘DITC’ Session (Do you REALLY know about that . . . (?)”   In order to begin, the first thing that must be done is to recognize sampling as a viable means of composition. A quick tour through contemporary academic works will bring us to some important scholars who have already defined the sample. So instead of re-creating the wheel, I will simply sample them. In his 199 1 article “The Fine Art of Rap”, Richard Shusterman forges through a quite convincing (and witty) argument positioning an emerging rap music not only as a powerful postmodern form of cultural poetry (with its roots deeply planted in a African-American underclass), but also as fine art. When identifying the role of the Hip Hop DJ in the section “Appropriative Sampling”, he shows an early understanding of how “the music derives from selecting and combining parts of prerecorded songs to produce a  ‘new’ soundtr ack. This soundtrack, produced by the DJ on a multiple turntable, constitutes the musical background for the rap lyrics [which] in turn are frequently devoted …   to praising the DJ’s inimitable virtuosity in sampling and synthesizing the appropriated music” (Shusterman 614). Two years later in his seminal text, Black Studies, Rap and the Academy  , Houston Baker not only works toward defining the Hip Hop sample, but also clearly places the Hip Hop DJ in the center of that discourse. Baker shows how Hip Hop DJs would abandon any particular song if they felt that only 20 or so seconds contained the worthwhile music. So with two turntables, two copies of the same record, and some really quick hands, Hip Hop DJs began to sample, or loop, that 20 second beat live. As the technology grew, so did the sampling technique, which included various soundbites and riffs, which demonstrated a unique type of archiving and referencing: The result was an indefinitely extendable, varied, reflexively signifying hip-hop sonics-indeed, a deft sounding of postmodernism. The techniques of rap were not simply ones of    RADICAL TEACHER http://radicalteacher.library.pitt.edu No. 97 (Fall 2013) DOI 10.5195/rt.2013.40 23 selective extension and modification. They also included massive archiving. Black sound (African drums, bebop melodies, James Brown shouts, jazz improvs, Ellington riffs, blues innuendos, doo-wop croons, reggae words, calypso rhythms) were gathered into a reservoir of threads that DJs wove into intriguing tapestries of anxiety and influence. (Baker 88-89) A year later, Andrew Bartlett helps to flesh out the definition of sampling, labeling it as a new form of digital collaboration that entails a dialogue between various pieces of musical soundbites and representations that become overlayed to create a sole ‘text’: “Sampling in hip hop is not collaboration in any familiar sense of that term. It is a high-tech and highly selective archiving, bringing into dialogue by virtue of even the most slight representation... with digital sampling, expropriated material is (often minutely and momentarily) recognizable, yet placed so that it often sounds radically anomalous, especially when the sampled material is overlapped or layered” (Bartlett 647 -650). Jeff Rice brings us full circle to a more contemporary definition of sampling, as the “hip -hop process of saving snippets of prerecorded music and sound into a computer memory. These sounds become cut from their srcinal source and pasted into a new composition” (Rice 454). These sources can be vast: from music, TV shows, speeches, and even video games, all of which are used methodologically to construct a new work based on recontextualized sources or citations (Rice 458). The critical point that Rice later presents that deserves our attention is in his book The Rhetoric of Cool  , where in the chapter “Appropriation”, he states:   The mere mention of sampling as a research method tells me to explore hip- hop’s usage of digital sampling (inspired by the role DJs play in hip-hop) in order to learn more about how this  practice informs rhetoric . . . crying plagiarism has done little to teach writing how appropriation works for various purposes . . . to cry theft is to refuse to recognize the mix’s role in new media -based expression and how that role may destabilize rhetorical and pedagogical expectations … to teach the mix through appropriation, we have to reject the disciplinary fixation on theft (represented in the general fear of plagiarism  ─   whether that fear is posed as an economic one or a pedagogical one) and recognize that appropriation as mix signifies more than just borrowing texts … we become as mixed and appropriated as the compositions we write. (Rice 67-69) With this in mind, sampling not only functions as a worthy source of information for composing, but it also lends to a transactional practice, a back and forth interplay between sampling as “text constructing” and the identity of the Hip H op DJ who “mixes”, writes or constructs that text. There is a lineage in the formation of the sampled text; that sonic “text” thus stands as a testament of the musical influences that both precede it and live with it contemporarily. As a form of “new media -based expression”, the intricacies of 21 st  century understanding of the sample cannot be useful in a 20 th  century context called plagiarism. Rice shows how this lending and borrowing of texts in the sample can be a critical location for students to see intertextuality at work. Finally, after allowing the academic definitions, I took it to the source to make sure I included the culture I am writing about: Hip Hop. So I called my man Mr.Len: Hip Hop DJ and producer whose worked with Hip Hop artists from Company Flow (as a founding member and DJ) to Jean Grae, Prince Paul to Pharaoh Monch and countless others. When I told Len I was writing this article, we went into one of many frequent extensive conversations about the Hip H op DJ and sampling. Len put it simply: “Yeah mayn  ─  the DJ was the one who sampled WAY before the producer. That comes from Kool Herc. The true hip-hop DJs sampled based on the name ‘DJ’   ─   cuz they Jockeyed the Disc and rode the beat. They would ride that two or three second riff, and stretched it into minutes . . . live!” What all of these academic and DJ scholars do is not only help us understand the idea of the sample, but place the Hip Hop DJ at the forefront of sampling srcins and conversations as a new type of “composer”. They also push us towards looking at sampling as a creative way to engage students in the process of composing. What we find in all these texts is the sample being used as re-creation towards the aim of composing but also archiving  ─  the types of quotation and citation sourcing we ask our composition students to do in their writing. These scholars also highlight the importance of the advent of the sample as composition, and with that, Hip Hop culture and pedagog y’s “whatever” mentality, that bumps back against a sometimes oppressive and outdated academy that sees composing and writing in simple “black and white” terms:  “ mainly –   either you write it OUR way or it’s wrong…you wrote it yourself, or you had to steal it, and NOW you in trouble sun!!!” Second, we must recognize that just as sampling comes to the table with a rich legacy, so too do the roots of Pennycook’s understanding of transgressive versus non -transgressive intertextuality. Around the same time the landscape is being established for the Hip Hop sample, there’s another set of records playing from another set of crates in relation to the Hip H op DJ’s “citation critique” contextual framework. Pennycook’s notion of intertextuality extends from a movement in recontextualizing, reinterpreting and re-envisioning plagiarism; throughout the 1990’s, the scholar who avidly carried this torch was Rebecca Moore Howard. Her overwhelming concern involves reconsidering and revising the notion of the word  “plagiarism”: from probing students’ intentions when deliberating over the individual cases of “patchwriting as academic dishonesty” to completely abandoning the word  “plagiarism” because of its negatively engendered and punitive etymology. What all of these academic and DJ scholars do is not only help us    RADICAL TEACHER http://radicalteacher.library.pitt.edu No. 97 (Fall 2013) DOI 10.5195/rt.2013.40 24 understand the idea of the sample, but place the Hip Hop DJ at the forefront of sampling srcins and conversations as a new type of “composer”.   In her article “Sexuality, Textuality: the Cultural Work of Plagiarism”,  Howard lays out a comprehensive history on the legacy of the word (and all that travels with it):  “[Plagiarism] is derived from the Latin term for kidnapping, a term whose meaning the Roman poet Martial extended to include not only the stealing of slaves but also textual appropriation” (Howard 479). Howard also illuminates the argument that given the engendered and negatively marred term “plagiarism”, along with all its historical and cultural metaphors, meanings and connotations, requires us more so to abandon the term than to actually try to reconfigure its etymology: Gender, weakness, collaboration, disease, adultery, rape, heterosexuality, and property: This whole set of metaphors and associations lies behind every utterance of the word plagiarism, rendering fruitless our pedagogical efforts to teach useful textual strategies and to adjudicate this  plagiarism thing…the term  plagiarism, denoting a heterogeneous variety of textual activities, is doing cultural work that few of us would deliberately endorse. But notwithstanding attempts (my own included) to redefine that category, as long as the term marks any sort of academic activities, rules, or events, it will continue to do the distasteful, hierarchical work that its metaphors describe, even if some of us eschew or reject those metaphors. (Howard 487-488) With this in mind, plagiarism throughout the academy becomes a difficult term to define, an err-filled concept to unilaterally universalize across a disciplinary committee that handles such cases, and an ideal that simply cannot be “washed clean and worn again”; Moore clear ly advocates for an extensive “spring cleaning” and a new wardrobe in addressing the concept of “plagiarism”.  After cementing her argument in regards to plagiarism, Howard moves forward by offering solutions that might jumpstart the conversation for writers, scholars, English Studies, and the academy at large. She constructs a working draft for a new "academic honesty" collegiate policy (see "Plagiarism, Authorships, and the Academic Death Penalty"), taking into account student motives in cases that could involve various degrees of plagiarism that remove the negative and highly engendered stigma placed on the word. In this document, she deciphers potential student decisions in patchwriting (a source of inquiry for Pennycook in describing certain aspects of intertextuality). As well, Howard writes intertextually  ─  using the scholars from various writing disciplines that have come both before and with her (thus, “a sample of the samplings”)  ─  to construct a comprehensive argument for viewing the word "plagiarism" with all its negative metaphors and engendered binary attitudes, and why the prevalent discussion of the word is a Western ideological contortion that should be done away with completely. Howard introduces a new framework for intellectual and pedagogical conversation in regards to what is necessary in the 21 st  century for an emerging set of student writers based on all that has come before and through this necessary shift; detailing the large circumference of landscape, spanning over three centuries, involved with an academic and literary conversation on plagiarism becomes Pennycook's intellectual playground in his attempts to set the boundaries on the field where intertextuality can breathe and play. Essentially, the product of her sampling of plagiarism blazes trails for Pennycook’s intertextuality sounds.  Because these scholars have advocated for a different view of composing, it makes sense that this leads us to Pennycook’s analysis, which requires us to complicate me re  “plagiarism” with  the idea of intertextuality, where the connection between texts, authorship and knowledge are continuously writing and re-writing each other. The issue is no t as simple as “stealing” and theft, but instead, degrees of recycled thoughts and writing to the point where the intertextuality becomes “transgressive”   ─   a violation of the one and/or many sources that may have contributed to the words, ideas or composition a student may present as his or her own. We now have a sense of the source of our samples and the records required to rock this set. Now we can let a Hip Hop DJ show us what they all sound like with each other. “Tight, Tight!/ Peace to the ones that DON’T bite!”  How these sound together: In the Midst of the Mix aka R.I.5. Jay Dilla (Ruff Draft) So approaching this conversation with the Hip H op DJ’s perspective of “biters”, “jackers” and “transformers” in mind, Pennycook’s no tion of intertextuality can help us to further the conversation that Wakefield presents. While she gives her students more extensive examples of P. Diddy and Vanilla Ice, this writing utilizes the philosophies of the Hip Hop DJ to add on and continue a deeper conversation. So instead of Diddy being labeled by students as an artist using “too many samples”, DJ rhetoric would speak to this situation by presenting three categories for Diddy’s work: Diddy as “biter”, “jacker” and finally, as “transformer.” After all, it is DJ rhetoric that would speak to the ways in which the practices, modes, methods and cultural critiques of Hip Hop music get defined and classified. Thus, the idea of “biters”, “jackers” and “transformers” comes from a categorization the DJ has traditionally made in commenting on and critiquing music.  “Biters” would be considered artists who simply take a loop, disregarding the context the loop comes from and potentially creating a composition that goes completely against the grain of what the srcinal source represents. For example, walking on a crowded college campus, a student named Murv stops me and says, “Hey - that’s a cool t- shirt! Where did you get it?” I tell the student, “I got it from a website: www.dontbitemystyle.net  ─    check it out!” A week later, Murv is seen by Lillith wearing an IDENTITICAL
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