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Guest Lecture: Dr. Lauron Kehrer

October 4, 2019 @ 4:15 pm


Dr. Lauron Kehrer, Western Michigan University, presents

“Nice for What”: New Orleans Bounce and Disembodied Queer Voices in the Mainstream
Rapper Lil Nas X broke records and barriers in 2019 with the release of his top country and hip-hop song, “Old Town Road,” and his public coming out as a gay man. He is the first openly queer artist in the genre to have reached this level of commercial success. With this one prominent exception, however, queer artists and influencers have been shaping the sound of hip-hop without the benefit of the same level of representation or visibility as their straight counterparts. One notable example is the recent proliferation of songs by mainstream musicians that use samples and/or feature artists from New Orleans bounce. For the past decade, queer and trans rappers have been the dominant force in bounce, a dance-centric hip-hop genre that originated in that city. Recently, artists such as Beyoncé and Drake have sampled bounce artists in their own hit songs, such as the former’s “Formation” and, more recently, the latter’s “Nice for What” and “In My Feelings.” However, the queer artists sampled in these and other examples, including the openly queer and gender non-conforming Big Freedia, are rarely given much visibility as collaborators – they seldom appear in music videos, for example, and become instead purely audible samples in which their queer identities are erased. As Myles Johnson writes of bounce rapper Big Freedia, “mainstream culture [has seemingly made] a phantom or ghost out of a living person.” Tracing the emergence of so-called “sissy bounce” and drawing on scholarship on queer sampling practices (Powell 2018), this talk examines how national artists’ use of elements from this hyper-local hip-hop style as sonic flavoring often problematically reduces bounce rappers, especially black queer rappers, to disembodied vocal samples. Through an examination of recent tracks by Drake, I raise questions about ethical sampling and collaboration practices in hip-hop.


October 4, 2019
4:15 pm
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Hill Hall, Room 103
145 E Cameron Ave
Chapel Hill, NC 27599 United States
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