Jacob Cupps

PhD Music Theory
M.A Washington University in St. Louis
B.A. Anderson University
research interests:
  • aesthetics
  • music production
  • popular music
  • hip-hop
  • underground cultures
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    Jacob P. Cupps researches music production and subgenre formation in rap, examining the means by which hip-hop musicians create and communicate identities in sound.

    Jacob’s master’s thesis, “‘The Sound of the Underground’: Distinguishing Alternative Identity in Rap’s Contemporary Moment,” examines underground hip-hop from the last twenty years to develop a vocabulary for the musical techniques that rappers and producers use to sound an underground identity in the music. Future iterations of this project will focus more closely on the music of the Ruby Yacht collective, Backwoodz Studioz, and Mello Music Group, taking a more hybrid ethnographic and theoretical approach. In Washington University’s music department, Jacob has been an AI for the Classical and Jazz Theory sequence, as well as for courses on the Roots of Lofi Hip-Hop a Music of the African Diaspora.

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    Selected Conference Presentations
    “Sampling(,) Earthseed: Butlerian Themes and Dynamic Musicopoetics in Two Collaborative Works by Nicole Mitchell” Society for American Music, 2024 conference

    “Form as Flow(, Layering,) and Rupture in Contemporary Underground Hip-Hop” Theorizing African American Music Preconference to AMS-SMT, 2023 session

    “‘If You’re Seeking Understanding…”: Glissant’s Opacity, ELUCID’s I Told Bessie, and the Politics of Legibility in Contemporary Underground Hip-Hop” International Associations for the Study of Popular Music, 2023 conference