The Break. The Loop… And Photoshop.

There are two things about hip-hop music that really draw me in as a listener.  The first is hip-hop’s ability to distil.  The second is its ability to synthesize.

Cool Herc is credited with the first real distillations of music in hip-hop:

“The moment where dancers really got wild was in a song’s short instrumental break, when the band would drop out and the rhythm section would get elemental.  Forget melody, chorus, songs – it was all about the groove, building it, keeping it going.  Like a string theorists Herc zeroed in on the fundamental vibrating loop at the heart of the record, the break.”

As hip-hop evolved, DJs began to loop breaks together.  The combination of loops, mixing and remixing, is what has created much of the hip-hop that we listen to today.  Try this out.  Take any hip-hop song you like and plug it into “Who Sampled”.  Often songs are made up of many many samples distilled from other music and looped together.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been seeing in Daniel Pupulin’s class this week… except his students are using photoshop…

Take a look at this storytelling and tell me that it’s not a hip-hop version of the Taylor Swift and Kanye West beef that reappeared last night on the Grammys


The interesting thing to me is that the images that Daniel’s students are making are the products of play.  There’s often a lot of giggling as they try new things and tinker with photoshop. He hasn’t taught memes, and he certainly hasn’t renamed his communications technology class #HipHopEd.

It makes me wonder about how we teach students to make connections.  Maybe we need to let students play more, then help make their connections and thinking more explicit.  

Just a thought.


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