Understanding “flow”: A multimodal reading of political economy and capitalist erotics in hip hop
AffiliationUiT The Arctic University of Norway; University of Chester
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AbstractOne of the essential elements of a rapper’s art is “flow”: the delivery of text against beat. Hip hop, with its linguistic dominance and street origins, is traditionally male-orientated, with women often depicted in terms of (sexual) subordination. However, when considered through a female gaze, the discourses conjured by “flow” take on different meanings. From the flow of desire to monthly visits from Aunt Flo, “flow” is integral to female sexuality. As a commercial art form in a capitalist society, the flow of capital is another meaning that has been largely overlooked in hip hop studies. In this article we broaden the understanding of “flow” to include that of the libido, menstruation, capital, and social media. We analyse five hip hop songs (with videos) using a methodology that builds on Van Leeuwen’s (1999) multimodal analysis of sound, together with a tripartite division of “mode” into cultural practices, semiotic resources, and elements (Maxwell, 2015), underpinned by close readings of the Marxist philosophers Deleuze and Guattari. We show that the dominant flow in hip hop is inevitably that of capital – the Deleuzian great flow – and that even this self-consciously subversive music style is governed by the insatiable drive of the market.
CitationMaxwell, K., & Greenaway, J. (2022). Understanding “flow”: A multimodal reading of political economy and capitalist erotics in hip hop. Multimodality & Society, 2(4), 410–433. https://doi.org/10.1177/26349795221136859
DescriptionFrom Crossref journal articles via Jisc Publications Router
History: epub 2022-11-10, issued 2022-11-10
Publication status: Published