"'Jackin' for Beats'": DJing for citation critique.

Author:Craig, Todd

"Funk is the DNA of hip-hop. And sampling is the essence."

George Clinton

Ghostface Killer:

"Nah sun! Lemme tell these niggas something, god: I don't want niggas soundin' like me.... on NO album! Knaimsayin? For real, cuz I'ma approach a nigga, for real. I don't want nobody soundin' like me, for real sun. It's bad enuf nigga, I don't want nobody soundin' like nobody from my Clan, man. Keep it real, git'cha own shit man, and be ORIGINAL!"


"Word up!"


"That's all man."

From Ghostface Killer and Raekwon the Chef, "Shark Niggas (Biters)", Only Built 4 Cuban Linx ..., Loud/RCA, 1995.

Just letting my brain storm: "... there's a breeze in the air that's makin' me think about this joint ..."

Picture this: about four years ago, you're standing at the launch party of the 2nd edition of your first novel. You're with your peoples who are in attendance. Mr.Len, whose doing a special guest spot for your launch, is killin' his set in APT so ill, that when you're standing outside with two of your peoples, resident DJ Rich Medina opens the door to go to the DJ booth and says "yo Len, I just wanted to say FUCK YOU sun ... cuz you're KILLIN' it right now!!!" You speak to Len two days after the party and he tells you an interesting anecdote about how he had gotten a call the next afternoon, as there was a radio personality who was playing the same songs from his set that sounded quite reminiscient of the exact same set order. You've already gotten the word from the day before that the Twitter buzz was CRAZY from that night ... word on the wire was it was the party of the night. And all you can think is "so Twitter's buzzin' ALL night, but you ain't gon say that's my sun, sun? Yeah, aight ..."

At that point, I couldn't deny there was something in the air, a funny type of cool breeze blowin' through the trees that forced me to focus on the fact that this sound was in the air. It was clear to me that somebody was bitin' my sun's style and tryin' to pass it off as his or her own ... ah, the foulness of it all. Somewhere along the line, people straight forgot that classic Masta Ace line from that classic posse cut entitled "The Symphony" (which, of course, appeared on the legendary DJ Marley Marl's album In Control: Volume 1): "I project my voice so it's right in the crowd/There's a sign at the door: 'No Bitin' Allowed!'/ And if you didn't read it, I suggest you do so/ or you'll be stranded, just like Caruso/ Sleep if ya wanna, ga'head, get some shut-eye/ A man broke his jaw tryin' to say what I/ say on the microphone/ you shoulda left it alone/ just for the record, let it be known" (Masta Ace). It only makes me think about the ways in which originality and borrowing have changed based on technology, the Internet and a whole slew of other forces. Masta Ace stated It clearly in 1988. Twenty-five years later, it seems the game done gon' and changed, word. So I sat down to catch it before the wind flipped New England, and started to blow in another way--a different direction, density and temperature.

The Source ... "that sound comes from somewhere"

In 2013, the wind in the academic air blows a chilly breeze entitled "plagiarism." Flip through any College Handbook and you're quick to find the "Statement of Academic Honesty and Integrity"; it starts in the handbook, appears on just about every forthcoming syllabus (especially in English classes), and becomes more complicated as the idea of "text" jumps off the page and into 21st century Internet and online spaces. For students, this idea is complicated by notions of "summary", "paraphrasing" and "citation" as well as "cut", "copy" and "paste." It seems that students have a blurred and complicated perception of what scholarly research looks like in academia. Scholars like Laura J. Davies, Bill Marsh, Dominic A. Sisti and numerous others continue to push the research and the conversation in regards to the plagiarism debate, and more specifically, how to address and curtail the infamous epidemic. With this conversation in mind, the concept of this article, "DJing for Citation Critique", stems from a few sources. First and foremost, it is important to understand that the history of hip-hop sampling has been referred to throughout various academic texts as a borrowing, a new type of new media composition that is constantly working in the vein of archiving, quoting and citing--paying homage to all those "sources" that come before it and through it.

Alongside the research that positions Hip Hop sampling as a textual borrowing, a second contextual framework guides my concept of DJing-for-Citation-Critique. This framework emanates from Sarah Wakefield's article entitled "Using Music Sampling to Teach Research Skills", in which she explains that "music sampling provides a metaphor for skillful incorporation of quotations ... discussing, or better yet, playing a sampled song demonstrates to the class how quoted research should be used. The outside material ought to enhance their statements and arguments, flowing smoothly rather than standing out" (358-359). Wakefield is able to begin a student-centered conversation by highlighting the example of P. Diddy and his choices in sampling throughout his music career. The third piece of this conceptual framework sits with Alastair Pennycook's work dealing with plagiarism, its connections to Western ideologies with regards to composing and the relationship between authorship, ownership and knowledge. In his essay entitled "Borrowing Others' Words: Text, Ownership, Memory, and Plagiarism", he promotes an alternative view of intertextuality over the archaic black-and-white term called "plagiarism". Pennycook presents an interesting situation in terms of academic citation with a layered quote where he reads an essay by Morgan citing Ann Raimes who quotes Giroux. When he read the Raimes piece, he sees that Raimes claims she is citing Faigley, who is citing Giroux. When he finds the Faigley source, he sees that Faigley seems to be paraphrasing Giroux; what becomes interesting in this conundrum is when he finds the actual Giroux text as referenced by Faigley in his bibliography:

the phrase 'theoretical depth and methodological refinement' does not appear in the Giroux book on the page that Faigley references: (or at least in the copy I looked at). And so, as these words and ideas circulate around the academic community, it becomes unclear quite what their origins are. And does it matter? ... within contemporary academic writing practices, with layers of citations, e-mail, cutting and pasting, and so on, the adherence to supposed norms of authoriality are becoming increasingly hazy. (Pennycook 216)

This moment clearly demonstrates a necessity for envisioning texts and citation methods in ways that model an everchanging landscape in English Studies, specifically how we as practitioners approach citation with regards to the 21st century new media writer. Simply put, technology has changed the outlook on citation and paraphrasing; how do we as English scholars begin to help our students envision this issue in a different way--one that reflects the newly-arrived advent of digital technology and cyberspace that complicate the former parameters of the teaching of writing?

Based on the intersection of these three conceptual frameworks, the aim of this article is to explore new ways to frame citation, quoting and plagiarism--all of which can impact English composition classrooms--by exposing us to the utilization and critique of the sampling in which Hip Hop DJs engage. This exposure can, at once, foster a new type of conversation, one that jettisons some of the archaic constraints of plagiarism as a "black and white" phenomenon, but it can also lay part of the groundwork for constructing key elements of DJ Rhetoric and Literacy. What Pennycook so eloquently demonstrates is an idea that appears in the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness". In the film, the protagonist, Chris Gardner (Will Smith), says how in the Declaration of Independence, "Thomas Jefferson calls the English 'the disturbers of our harmony.'" It interestingly demonstrates Pennycook's theories on plagiarism: a Western ideology that constrains, constricts and inhibits students' abilities to find their own voice in writing, as "plagiarism" becomes the disturber of their writing harmonies. With these layered concepts in mind, this article samples these three conceptual frameworks, using Pennycook to further Wakefield's conversation about research skills and Hip Hop sampling.

Since it has been further documented that the Hip Hop DJ has been at the historical forefront and burgeoning of hip-hop sampling, this writing theoretically functions similar to how the Hip Hop DJ both utilizes and critiques sampling. DJ Rhetoric and Literacy through the lens of the Hip Hop DJ allows us to look at this quandary in a different and innovative way. Pennycook's idea of transgressive versus non-transgressive intertextuality has been quite the radical challenge to literature and composition scholars stuck in the engendered and traditional ideologies of plagiarism. However, this complex and organic understanding of intertextuality has been fully manipulated and exploited by the Hip Hop DJ, especially in the categorizing of music with three rhetorical terms: "biters", "jackers" and finally, "transformers". Because the central argument of this article revolves around these three fluid categories, it is evident that the Hip Hop DJ's lens promotes Pennycook's understanding of intertextuality in 21st century literacies in ways that the 20th century notion of plagiarism simply does not and will not work. Complicating the black-and-white of plagiarism to open up a conversation within the new media technologies' creation of the gray areas presents a more fruitful understanding of citation, paraphrasing and quoting for a community of writers. So in order to do this, we need to do a little work--take this upcoming...

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