Sampling is fundamental to hip hop music. It began when club DJ’s noticed that the breaks in contemporary pop hits usually got the club live. Eventually, those DJ’s – or anyone with audio equipment – started looping those breaks to extend them, and finally, emcees began rapping over the breaks. Now, hip hop songs are usually comprised of multiple layers of sampled sounds, slowed down, sped-up, and otherwise edited together to form a single composition.
This is what I wanted to explore when I first built the Hip Hop Is Not For You game: the different layers of a song, and how adding and removing each layer affected the mood of the song. The gaming aspects serve mainly as an interface; this is not so much a game as a toy, which allows the user to experience what it’s like when certain instruments and sounds are brought into the song, and what each does to the sound.
Then, I went about creating a controller for it. As I mentioned, hip hop started with DJ’s, who would use turntables to extend the breaks; using two copies of the same song playing on two turntables, they could go back and forth between the records, essentially looping and extending the instrumental break beats that were so popular. Using two turntable-like wheels, users mimic the mechanics of this “beat juggling” while they play the game. Overall, players are engaging in three specific gestures reminiscent of club DJ’s:
Pretty much just followed the tutorial at the ITP blog. One problem: holding the button down for too long crashes the USB port. I’m going to try adding a 10k ohm pull-up resistor to see if it helps.
(Nerdy, middle school me just let out a high-pitched squeal of delight.)
I meant for the beep to represent a heartbeat and the fading of the lights to represent heavy breathing, but after seeing my roommate’s reaction, I bought a second speaker so I could figure out how to make a convincing breathing noise. Still working on that, but I figured I’d post this. The idea of representing a heartbeat was interesting, though the beeping reminded me more of a patient on life support than an animal, which led me to figuring out a way to represent heavy, labored breathing.
Here’s a link to the Hip Hop Hero game I presented. Doesn’t seem to work on OpenProcessing, so you’ll have to download to run it.
What I’m trying to get out of this class is the ability to link a similar type of game to a physical controller. Eventually, I want to design a custom controller for the game.
Though not necessarily related in terms of execution, one of the artists I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from is Kehinde Wiley. He’s an artist who specializes in repurposing classical European portraits as portraits of African American men and women. I think the idea of focusing on the Black experience, not only in the U.S. but across the world, is important – at the very least for posterity’s sake. Likewise, I intend to bring hip hop culture into the discussion of design, art and technology, so that future practitioners of hip hop will have new tools for interacting with the culture in unique ways.
And on that note, here is my first week’s assignment.