Hold Up, How Did Hip-Hop Become A Trailblazer in VR?
Hip-Hop is a vehicle into the future and the future is here. In this episode of Hip-Hop and the Metaverse, we stop by the South Los Angeles cultural hub of Leimert Park, where Hip-Hop artists and entrepreneurs experiment with new technologies to create and reimagine the possibilities of their craft in a digital space. Our host, Dr. Taj Frazier explores how Hip-Hop's revolutionary roots give artists and their communities the tools to navigate, innovate and transform spaces where they are often overlooked. When “the Metaverse” came back into public consciousness, Hip-Hop artists defined and transformed the landscape shaping how we think about and experience this new wave of technologies. Let’s look at how they adopt and remix new tech to make space for themselves in the Metaverse.
How Hip-Hop Artists are Using AI to Transform Their Sound
While Artificial Intelligence models like ChatGPT and Dall-E 2 promise to change the way we create art, Hip-Hop artists are retooling and developing AI to create new sounds and new ways of producing music. In this episode of Hip-Hop and the Metaverse we meet independent artist Vritra, former member of Hip-Hop collective Odd Future, as he tests out AI programs for a new song. He collaborates with computer scientist and musician Micah Brown, who has developed BrainRap an assistive AI platform, which listens to an artist freestyling, singing or writing and suggests words and phrases in real-time. Our host, Dr. Taj Frazier explores the benefits and potential pitfalls of these new technologies alongside experts in the field that shine a light on the biases and human flaws machine learning algorithms can carry. How can Hip-Hop show us the way to use AI responsibly?
Avatar Evolution: The Pros and Cons of Virtual Artists
Are virtual avatars the next evolution for Hip-Hop? And what are the problems they pose when they’re misused? In this episode, our host Taj Frazier, PhD takes a look at emerging Virtual Artists and the long history of musicians using alter egos to transform and explore their image and sound. We explore the questions that arise when avatars are created outside of the context of Hip-Hop communities and the pitfalls that ensue. How can we make virtual avatars ethically and rooted in our lived experiences?
How Are Digital Replicas Preserving Hip-Hop History?
As Hip-Hop reached its 50th anniversary, the question of preserving its culture and artifacts is coming to a head. While hip-hop's cultural artifacts can be found everywhere from private collections, to museums, to the merchandise stand — new technologies like photogrammetry and LiDAR are establishing a means of historic preservation in a digital space through 3D twins of the real world. With simple tools like a photo camera or even a smart phone, users can make 3D renditions of real-life objects, places, and people with a simple scan. The “digital twin” is becoming a tool of historic preservation in virtual worlds. But Hip-Hop remains a marketable and a popular cultural currency. 3D renditions of places and artifacts can be done without the artist’s consent and remain in the hands of interests outside of the culture. In a world where anything can be turned into a virtual 3D object, how do artists maintain sovereignty and control over their works in a digital space?
How Hip Hop speaks Truth to Power: Then and Now
Hip-hop has a long history of representing and championing underserved communities as an activist voice and movement builder. Since it’s beginnings, artists have used the power of song to reflect on social injustices, discrimination, and the struggles people face in inequitable societies. Groups like Public Enemy, often referring to themselves as the “Black CNN”, used their platform and music to critique and inform audiences of actual events that shaped our collective experiences. In this episode we’ll meet artists who continue Hip-Hop's revolutionary legacy using new technologies to voice their lived experience and immerse audiences in the struggle.