Rhythms of Relation: Black Popular Music and Mobile Technologies

How to Cite

Weheliye, A. G. (2017). Rhythms of Relation: Black Popular Music and Mobile Technologies. Current Musicology, (99/100). https://doi.org/10.7916/cm.v0i99/100.5347


In this essay I focus on the singular performances of the interface between (black) subjectivity and informational technologies in popular music, ask-ing how these performances impact current definitions of the technologi-cal. After a brief examination of those aspects of mobile technologies that gesture beyond disembodied communication, I turn to the multifarious manifestations of techno-informational gadgets (especially cellular/mobile telephones) in contemporary R&B, a genre that is acutely concerned, both in content and form, with the conjuring of interiority, emotion, and affect. The genre’s emphasis on these aspects provides an occasion to analyze how technology thoroughly permeates spheres that are thought to represent the hallmarks of humanist hallucinations of humanity. I outline the extensive and intensive interdependence of contemporary (black) popular music and mobile technologies in order to ascertain how these sonic formations refract communication and embodiment and ask how this impacts rul-ing definitions of the technological.