CeMoRe Seminar with Dr Justin Williams

Date:16 March 2010

'Cars with the Boom': Dr. Dre's 'G-Funk', Automobility, and Hip-hop 'Sub' Cultures

Dr. Justin A. Williams, Lancaster University

While much recent literature has been devoted to the role and impact of the automobile as the 'quintessential manufactured object' of the twentieth century (Urry 2005), little has been written on the cross-influences among recorded music, technology, and automobility. My research locates the influence of the automobile on music production, a listening space recognized as important by music producers since at least the 1960s. My paper engages with one particular case study of the intersections between music and automobility: the early-1990s recordings of Los Angeles-based rap music producer Dr. Dre (Andre Young). His creation of a self-titled rap style known as 'G-Funk' was, according to him, created and mixed specifically for listening in car stereo systems.

As borrowing is central to hip-hop's ethos, Dr. Dre's production reflects how musical materials become re-used for a new space, updated and customized for his idealized automotive listening experience. My analysis will consider geographies of place and space, automobility, technology and car customization as crucial mediating factors, moving towards a more comprehensive ecology of music production and automotive listening. My presentation provides a glimpse of a moment in the neglected history of popular music and automobility with an aim to expand the project in terms of scope, methodology and disciplinary perspectives.

BioŚDr. Justin A. Williams is currently an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University. He recently completed a PhD in Musicology on hip-hop music from the University of Nottingham under the supervision of Professor Adam Krims. His research interests include film music, jazz, popular music, music and geography, mobility and sound studies, and the analysis of record production. His current project investigates the intersections between popular music and automobility in the twentieth century.

Who can attend:Anyone

Further Information

Associated staff:Pennie Drinkall, John Urry, Justin Williams
Organising departments and research centres:Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe), Culture, Theory, Context, Film Studies, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Music, Sociology
  • Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA)
  • The LICA Building, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YW, UK