CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME: Reading the Recuperation of Hip-hop through Rancière’s Political Aesthetics and Attali’s Distinguishing of Signal and Noise

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  • CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME: Reading the Recuperation of Hip-hop through Rancière’s Political Aesthetics and Attali’s Distinguishing of Signal and Noise

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  • Abstract (long paper)

    Since Rancière, critical, cultural and social theorists have broadly accepted that aesthetics are inherently political. For instance, while the normalization of certain marginal voices can be understood as a distinguishing of signal and noise, the way in which aesthetic homogenization can become compulsory within certain communities is often cited as a mode by which accepted aesthetic paradigms can enforce social or ideological positions. As such, it would seem that the ability to broadcast/popularize minority or radical aesthetic paradigms would be a potent way to normalize those voices and forward alternative ideological agendas. However, the Situationists noted that aesthetics are also easily co-opted by the hegemony and can thus be stripped of their revolutionary potential; they dubbed this process, “recuperation.” Illustrating this co-optive process, this paper identifies the aesthetic norms of hip-hop culture through the application of Rancière’s “distribution of the sensible” and then traces how those norms have been co-opted, ultimately undermining hip-hop’s aesthetics-based revolutionary potential. However, and in order to suggest an alternative mode of radicalism, we combine Rancière’s aesthetic taxonomy with Attali’s, proposing a shift in focus away from “pure aesthetics” as a mode of radicalism and towards distribution as a future potential mode of revolutionary cultural production.