chapter  9
16 Pages

Breakbeat Syncretism: The Drum Sample in African American Popular Music

Repetition is recognized by academics as a key aspect of African diasporic conceptions of music, although its nature and musical function continue to be interpreted in widely divergent ways. In an article on the foundations of black Atlantic rhythm, for example, Jeff Pressing differentiates between literal and varied repetition, whilst scholar Tricia Rose, in her seminal work on the genre, vehemently defends repetition in hip hop against “facile” misreadings.1 Through its use of breakbeats (sampled funk drum loops) as the core, and sometimes only, non-verbal element in a song, hip hop production technique epitomizes the African American approach to repetition in music. Breakbeats form the focus of my research: I am interested in the way that groove works in breakbeats, in all of the contexts in which they occur, and in the way that this groove allows participation to occur across time and space between musicians, producers, and listeners.2