Loren Kajikawa studies the intersection of music, politics, and race in U.S. popular music, and he is an expert in hip hop music. At the University of Oregon, he is an associate professor of musicology and ethnomusicology. Loren has lectured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and regularly presents his work at annual meetings of the American Musicological Society, Experience Music Project, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, and Society for Ethnomusicology, among others. Among the classes that he teaches regularly are Music in the Twentieth Century, American Ethnic and Protest Music, and Hip-Hop Music. Loren’s first book, “Sounding Race in Rap Songs,” traces the changing sounds of race in rap songs over the last 35 years.
Areas of Expertise (4)
Media Appearances (5)
‘Hamilton’ can inspire us to be a better nation
It seems like ages since the musical “Hamilton” debuted in an off-Broadway theater in February 2015. But the blockbuster production has become no less relevant.
The musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, hero of the Revolutionary War and the United States’ first treasury secretary, using a hip-hop score and primarily black and Latino actors. In many ways, its remix of the Founding Fathers’ story resonates more loudly than ever amid talk of border walls, immigration bans and the richest presidential Cabinet in history...
Hip-hop and 'Hamilton' take center stage for Quack Chats
Around the O online
The hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” gets praise for its focus on diversity and inclusion, but UO musicologist Loren Kajikawa cautions fans to hold their applause — at least some of it.
Kajikawa credits the musical with drawing attention to racism by retelling the story of the nation’s founders through marginalized groups, but he argues that its narrative overlooks an economic inequality that continues to limit many Americans. Kajikawa will address this discrepancy in his upcoming Quack Chats pub talk, “Listening to Hamilton in the Age of Trump,” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, in the Erb Memorial Union’s Falling Sky Pizzeria.
Elly Vandegrift, Daniel HoSang receive teaching honors
Around the O online
“Professor HoSang’s lectures are consistently fun, intellectually challenging and original,” said Loren Kajikawa, associate professor in the School of Music and Dance.
Compton commodified: NWA was always a blend of fiction and reality
The Rock River Times
Last week, Dr Dre released Compton: The Soundtrack – his first album in 16 years – with cover art that features the iconic Hollywood sign transformed to read C-O-M-P-T-O-N.
The timing, title and cover imagery of the album coincide with the new biopic Straight Outta Compton, a film that details the rise and fall of Dr Dre’s former rap group NWA (Niggaz Wit Attitudes), which, along with Dre, included Eazy-E, MC Ren, DJ Yella and Ice Cube...
Prominent scholars in the field of racial justice to visit the UO
Around the O online
On Thursday, June 4, at 4:30 p.m., Lipsitz will join Loren Kajikawa, an assistant professor of musicology, in a public talk about race, music and politics in Room 110, Knight Law Center. Lipsitz, a professor of sociology and black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of 11 books on the histories and politics of racism, popular culture, music and social movements.
This essay outlines a critical pedagogy for teaching about hip hop and rap at a time when the music has become so firmly a part of mainstream U.S. culture. No longer controversial in the way that it was in the 1980s and 1990s when popular music studies was first becoming established, teachers can no longer assume that rap is politically progressive or that their students are committed to the black struggle because they are fans. Although it’s not a bad thing that scholars and teachers now spend less time arguing for hip hop’s legitimacy as music, there’s also something disconcerting about white students’ casual acceptance of rap as “their” music at a time when profound racial inequities still exist in employment, education, incarceration rates, etc. With over three decades of recorded music history, there’s no problem filling a syllabus. But should a hip hop survey cover more than the succession of artists, styles, and sub-genres? What could a critical pedagogy for rap music look like at a time when politicians and pundits encourage us to put race behind us?
This current volume of Black Music Research Journal posits that, despite the great diversity of New World African cultures, examining their religious and musical practices can reveal noteworthy similarities. The trope of Call-Response, outlined in Samuel Floyd Jr.’s landmark The Power of Black Music (1995), provides an important hermeneutic for uncovering such connections. As a metaphor for the expressive economy of musical practices, ideas, and experiences across the Diaspora, Call-Response tropes focus our attention on the perseverance of African cultural memory within the United States and Caribbean (95–97). This essay examines the mobilization of African cultural memory in the work of neo-soul musician Michael “D’Angelo” Archer.
Eminem's emergence as one of the most popular rap stars of 2000 raised numerous questions about the evolving meaning of whiteness in U.S. society. Comparing The Slim Shady LP (1999) with his relatively unknown and commercially unsuccessful first album, Infinite (1996), reveals that instead of transcending racial boundaries as some critics have suggested, Eminem negotiated them in ways that made sense to his target audiences. In particular, Eminem's influential single “My Name Is,” which helped launch his mainstream career, parodied various representations of whiteness to help counter charges that the white rapper lacked authenticity or was simply stealing black culture. This “rearticulation” of whiteness in hip hop paralleled a number of other ideological realignments in the 1990s, many of which pit questions of class against those of race in the service of constructing new political and cultural authenticities. Eminem's performances provide us with a mirror in which numerous questions surrounding whiteness's significance come into focus.