Category Archives: Week12


Vittoria Somaschini

Continuing to examine hiphop and mainstream music, this week I wanted to look at Jay-Z’s song Crown from Magna Carta Holy Grail, as it combines both musically stylings and production styles. The song was produced with Travi$ Scott and Mike Dean of Dirty South Records, both producers come from the southern rap scene. We hear this throughout the song as there are elements of ‘chopped & screwed’ which is a rap style born in Houston and most associated with Paul Wall and Mike Jones.


08 Crown (Produced By Travi$ Scott & Mike Dean)

Chopped and Screwed “is accomplished by slowing the tempo down to between 60 and 70 quarter-note beats per minute and applying techniques such as skipping beats, record scratching, stop-time, and affecting portions of the music to make a “chopped-up” version of the original” (Wikipedia).Along with being produced with elements from Chopped and Screwed, Crown always incorporates reggae, and elements of a ‘traditional’ sounding hip-hop.


Irvine, Martin. “Popular Music as a Meaning-System: The Combinatorial Structures We Use in Understanding Music.” Communication, Culture, and Technology Department, Georgetown U, Nov. 2013. Web. 17 November 2013.

Wikipedia. Scott, Travis.

Wikipedia. Chopped and Screwed.

“Locked Inside”

By Abby Bisbee


In Janelle Monáe’s The Archandroid, the second album of her Metropolis concept trilogy, the artist has integrated several musical genres into her tracks including R&B, Funk, techno, Latin rhythms, and 1960s pop-rock. In her song “Locked Inside,” Monáe has included traces from an international cultural encyclopedia – a choice that fits in well with her futuristic themes. In “Locked Inside” the genres of of R&B, Brazilian samba, Spanish guitar, 1960s pop, and 1980s electronic pop carry significant weight in the musical composition. This is best captured by the use of the following instruments that allow for the song to transform into a hybrid track: Congo drums, electric guitar, synthesizer, keyboard, drums, R&B vocals, 1960s samba vocals, horns, and finger snapping.


This is most evident in the manner in which the song is composed. In its opening measures, the R&B vocals of Janelle Monáe (singing solo) croon alongside a digitized guitar that serves as the foundation of underlying rhythm of the track that is carried through the verses, bridges, and choruses. This guitar remains one of the only constants through the entire song. At 0:15 the drums, piano, and snapping come in to fully capture the hybrid R&B and 1980s electronic pop sound. After the elongation of the notes and a decrease of the vocal rhythm in the bridge, the R&B inspired melody is abandoned for a Samba inspired rhythm with the breathy vocals seen in both samba and 1960s pop. The instrumental focus is rotated to the percussion to emphasize the up-tempo occurring in the song and the dramatic change of the timbre of the musical phrasing). During the chorus the focus turns from the underlying digitized guitar to the drums, bells, piano and hand percussion to note the shift. Throughout the song, particularly in the verses, there is a distinct stacking of vocals with the breathy background vocals serving, like the electric guitar, to connect the R&B and samba elements of the song. After the second chorus the song delves deeper into its roots with the addition of hand played drum, perhaps a set of bongo drums or a djembe. In addition the song also veers into both Latin and blues roots with the Santana inspired electric guitar to truly make the song an international hybrid. This section overlaps all of these musical elements while also picking up the tempo that stays with the song until 3:30 when the song returns to its R&B origins.

Locked Inside – Janelle Monáe (Live)

Works Referenced:

Janelle Monáe. “Locked Inside.” The Archandroid. Bad Boy Records, 2010. CD.

Irvine, Martin. “Popular Music as a Meaning-System: The Combinatorial Structures We Use in Understanding Music.” Communication, Culture, and Technology Department, Georgetown U, Nov. 2013. Web. 17 November 2013.

Gogol Bordello: Not a Crime

By: Arianna Drumond

In 1999 Manhattan based band Gogol Bordello – named for Ukranian author Nikolai Gogol–released their own unique brank of punk music: Gypsy Punk. The band makes use of the modern punk genre, cabaret, and traditional gypsy composition to tell the history of the Eastern European immigrant population in the United States. In order to create their truly hybrid sound, the band incorporates the requisite punk and psychedelic guitar riffs and pounding drums with the accordion, violin, and even the saxophone.


Their song “Not a Crime” off the album Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike is an excellent example of the ways in which the band pulls from the musical encyclopedia to create a truly dynamic and hybrid sound. With punk riffs, the accordion, and violin paired with both English and Russian lyrics, Gogol Bordello manages to pair two completely unrelated genres seamlessly.


Works Cited

Wikipedia Contributors. “Gogol Bordello.” Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. November 11, 2013. Web.


Hick Hop: Southern sound with an urban beat

Aena Cho

Country music has been a huge influence of hip hop or dance music since the 70s.  Particularly, many country music artists have incorporated some elements of hip hop/ dance music, mostly rap, to their music.  One of the best examples would be “Dirt Road Anthem” (2011) by Jason Aldean, an American country singer.  It is definitely a country song with little bit of rapping included.

Since the 90s, a new musical genre, country rap, began to form as a subgenre blending country music with many different elements of hip hop music-style rapping, also known as hick-hop.  “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” (2005) by Trace Adkins, an American country musician, is a great example of transgressing the genre boundaries between the southern country music and urban hip hop. Unlike “Dirt Road Anthem”, it is indeed well-balanced blurring of the two genres; it surely cannot be recognized only as either one of country or hip hop / dance music.  A fast up beat of hip hop dance music is placed under the vocal and twangy electric guitar lines, which are definitely country style.  In the middle, you can hear sounds of a loud synthesizer and a brief interlude of distorted vocal samples which also allude to hip hop dance music.  Actually, the song incorporates not only hip hop dance music but also a variety of sounds including techno and funk.  Meanwhile, the lyrics are much closer to those of hip hop songs with various sexual puns.  Each element of the songs, vocals, rhythms, lyrics, instruments, and techniques comes from each different genre; once they are combined together; they create a very different, unique genre of music, with new sounds and meanings.

Actually, to me, the song’s music video which also conjoins country music and hip hop cultures was more interesting. It sets in a bar and features men with cowboy style jeans and hats, including Adkins with lots of bedizened female dancers who look like those in hip hop dance music videos.  Lights flash around the men and dancers who mingle and dance together.  These overtly sexualized scenes definitely refer to hip hop “club” videos.

Music Video:


1.” Country rap”. Wikipedia. <>.

2. Engh. Dwayne. “Musical Cultures: To What Extent is the Language Used in the Song Lyrics of Hip-hop and Country Music Reflective of and Shaped by Cultural Beliefs and Experiences?” International Journal of English Linguistics. Vol 3, No 5, 2013.

3. Adkins, Trace. “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”. Songs About Me. Oct, 2005. Capitol Records Nashville.

Daft Punk´s “Get Lucky”

In Random Access Memories (2013), Daft Punk recompiles influences from music history such as electronic, techno music, funk, R&B, and 70’s and 80´s early disco (Irvine 7).  Analyzing in more detail their well-known hit “Get Lucky,” played along with Pharell Williams and Nile Rodgers, the hybrid sounds stand out.  They derive from the common encyclopedia mostly relying on the fusion of disco and pop music of the 80´s and early electronic music that is heavily supported by synthesizers.  In the minor scale, we can trace R&B and overall a strong Motown (even a Jackson Five kind of sound) rhythm with a disco beat played by actual drummers (7).  

Regarding the composition of the song, the main instrument sounds are the disco drums, the funky guitar, and a strong presence of the 80´s synthesizer.  In general, the dynamics of the sound go from soft to loud until the end of the song where the synthesizer plays an important role repeating the main chorus.  In terms of the vocals, the main singer, Pharrell Williams, starts the song in a style halfway between singing and rapping and moves to a disco falsetto where his tone rises as the song peaks at the chorus.  The melody is slow paced dance music and the lyrics are catchy and party oriented.  The phrases repeat frequently throughout the song inviting the listener to get involved in the rhythm as the melody is quite contagious.

Overall a great song to sing and hear at any time as it gives away a good vibe!

Like the legend of the phoenix

All ends with beginnings

What keeps the planet spinning

The force of the beginning

We’ve come too far to give up who we are

So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars

She’s up all night ’til the sun

I’m up all night to get some

She’s up all night for good fun

I’m up all night to get lucky

We’re up all night ’til the sun

We’re up all night to get some

We’re up all night for good fun

We’re up all night to get lucky

We’re up all night to get lucky (x4)

The present has no rhythm

Your gift keeps on giving

What is this I’m feeling?

If you wanna leave I’m ready (ahh)

(chorus again)

Works Cited

Irvine, Martin. “Popular Music as a Meaning-System: The Combinatorial Structures We Use in Understanding Music.” Communication, Culture, and Technology Department, Georgetown U, Nov. 2013. Web. 17 November 2013.