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Music Practice and Remembrance in Conscious Hip Hop


The research project "Music Practice and Remembrance in Conscious Hip Hop" examines the role of memories of the Nazi era in contemporary Hip Hop in Germany. These various contextualizations range from parody images performed by leftist protest movements to post-migrant Jewish communities’ reminiscences of flight, murder and displacement as part of their own family histories. The major concern of the research is the analysis of social practices linked to cultural memory in a variety of different Hip Hop movements. 

Social practices form the basis of collective negotiations of memories as well as for the processes of inscribing those meanings into the music. Music, then, is to be understood as a carrier and as a medium of memories, which is both a product of and directly linked to social practices. 'Music(al) practice' is understood here as a broad term, which in addition to the common understanding of music making by artists on stage or in the studio includes manifold practices, such as writing, speaking and thinking about music. In line with this view, production, distribution and consuming processes are central aspects of the research project. Accordingly, it is a main goal to understand the way in which the Nazi era is remembered in Hip Hop from different perspectives: from the musicians’, producers’ and composers’ as well as from the journalists’ and the listeners’ perspectives. For this purpose, ethnomusicological research methods including interviews and participant observation, especially in the sense of oral history, are combined with media analytical approaches such as video, music and discourse analysis. This approach facilitates investigations of different sources, such as Hip Hop tracks, music videos and contributions in different online and offline media. An understanding of meaning constructions and attributions from many different perspectives also requires a highly interdisciplinary approach, which, in addition to musicological methods also integrates approaches from gender studies, media studies, sociology of space, sound studies and literary studies.

Researcher: Thomas Sebastian Köhn