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The 2021 Pop Convergence: A Virtual Pop Conference, April 22-25th
Artwork by Alex Nero; Design by The Art Dictator
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Beza Fekade

From Riperton to Tribe, and Back Again: Hip Hop Sampling’s Sonic Temporality and Resistance

As poet and cultural critic, Hanif Abdurraqib (2020) wrote, “The casual music fan may know Minnie Riperton best not by a song, but by a song within a song. ‘Lovin’ You’..... At the three-minute mark of that tune, a perfect piercing note unfolds over the birdsong and the dreamlike electric piano." It was in that instance that her sound-making magic became more familiar to people's everyday grammar before Minnie, ther person, did "Lovin You" would go on to top the American pop charts for a week in 1975, and cement Riperton as a household sound of reference. However instrumental her tonality, vocal ability, and “whistle register” communicate, Riperton represents generational recurrences of resistance that provide insight on the sonics of blackness, being, and black female socialities, often neglected, and in the margins. To whom do her sounds resonate, where is it replicated, and what does it mean? Throughout time, black musicians have created and broadened notions of genre, sound, and technology in direct contention to the world’s structure of negation, anti-blackness, and violence. Hip-Hop sampling, for example, engages a technological, innovative and performative measure of retrieval and recovery. Renowned Hip-Hip group, A Tribe Called Quest, sampled Riperton’s voice from her 1975 song, “Inside My Love”, throughout the duration of their 1993 track, “Lyrics To Go.” In this paper, I use Fred Moten’s (2003) “Resistance of the Object: Aunt Hester’s Scream” as a catalyst to position Riperton’s voice, objecthood, and blackness as a transfiguration for Hip Hop’s method of sampling. This work strives to provide insight on how sampling may elicit resistance and temporality through its mechanisms of performance and improvisation. Furthermore, this essay grapples with what it means for Riperton’s voice and subjectivity to be rearticulated in new forms, and how these rearrangements either project or mute her impact.

Beza Fekade is an aspiring cultural writer who earned her Master’s Degree in African American Studies at Georgia State University. Her Master’s thesis, “Relocating Home: Second-Generation East African Women’s Twitter-Use as sites of Homeplace, Identity, and Memory,” interrogated the convergence of spatiality, cultural identity, and memory through the informal communal practices Black women engage with online. Her non-academic writing spans topics around cultural criticism, black studies, sound studies, and music.