The End of an Aura

Nostalgia, Memory, and the Haunting of Hip Hop

Authored by: Roy Christopher

The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415716253
eBook ISBN: 9781315879994
Adobe ISBN: 9781134748747


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Individual memories once firmly rooted in places in the past now float free of historical context. Now, we share our memories courtesy of the mass media and its rampant reproduction of artifacts. Technological mediation does a great deal of its work by manipulating context through the replication, reproduction, and circulation of moment-events, what José van Dijck calls “mediated memories.” 1 The media of the twenty-first century is rife with references to previous media in a manner unseen in previous eras. Samples, allusions, adaptations, remakes, remixes, copies, are all norms of media and art. Viewing the sampling of the hip hop DJ and the lyrical allusions of the emcee through the lens of Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and the tenets of cyberpunk literature, this chapter aims to illustrate how the mechanical reproduction of mediated memories has created a new nostalgic aura. I will start with a brief overview of these practices, connecting cyberpunk and hip hop to Benjamin’s theories, concluding with how advances in technology influence the process.

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