Publication Date

April 2017


Paula Matthusen




English (United States)


The American recording industry has been plagued by racial inequity since its inception. This essay explores several concrete patterns of exploitation of Black artists by white capital, focusing on the history Black representation in the executive branches of the music industry, and on copyright law’s evolution as a structure that abets the exploitation of less privileged artists and cultures. Then, the essay turns to a unique mode of close listening, for the purpose of grasping the plurality of narrative fragments and gestures that inflect and arise from the “audiotopias” that constitute Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. A touchstone of the essay is the practice of sampling, which is conceived of here as a tool for reanimating history, and bringing it into contact with the present through musical form. This essay is ultimately concerned with how colonial, hegemonic thought and practice work to contain dissident narratives, and the ways in which oppressive hegemony can be contested and escaped, around and through music.



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