nullPlease read Part 1 of this 2-part series HERE before continuing…

3: The History of the Hip Hop Music Video

Hip-hop has dipped its toes into many different facets of popular culture, but no

area more prominently than music. The style of sampling old R&B and jazz songs with

an emcee (lyricist) rhyming over the beat is part of the core of the hip-hop experience.

It was fresh and invigorating in the early 1980s, with sounds as diverse as the good-
natured party jams of Run DMC and the lyrically dense, socially conscious rhymes of

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five filling the airwaves. Hip-hop was introduced

to popular culture at large by way of the music video in the early 1980s. Ever since

Malcolm McLaren and the World Famous Supreme Team’s video for their song Buffalo

Gals was first released, and later when Run DMC’s Rock Box popularized it, hip-hop

has had a place in the world of the music video.

Author Jeff Chang talks at length about the evolution of the hip-hop music video

in his book Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop. In the chapter entitled “Put Your

Camera Where My Eyes Can See: Hip-Hop, Film, and Documentary,” Chang mediates a

discussion between various sources, from writer-director Rachel Ramist to hip hop journalist

Eric Arnold. Ramist begins by making clear what exactly the hip-hop aesthetic on film means:

“The hip hop aesthetic encompasses anything from a no-budget, gritty hip hop concept-
driven piece to a multimillion dollar music video where everything’s shiny and steady-
cammed, but it features some artist or some hip hop inspired fashion.” (308) This distinction

draws a link to FNW films, in that the environments may vary, from the hard-bitten streets of

France in 400 Blows to the bourgeois apartments of “Le Petit Soldat” and “Masculin Feminin.”   What becomes clear is that both the FNW and HHNW utilize contemporary mood and fashion to help their themes shine through with visual style.

A recurring theme throughout Kendrick Lamar’s song “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” and one

that the accompanying music video communicates very well, is the theme of isolation. In his

refrain of “I can feel your energy from two planets away/ I got my drink, I got my music/ I

would share it, but today I’m yelling/ Bitch don’t kill my vibe,” Lamar is flippantly dismissing the

entire world. The overwhelming nature of being surrounded by people on a near constant

basis (especially given his newfound celebrity in the hip-hop world). “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” is

one of a few songs on “good kid, m.A.A.d city” that isn’t a part of the overall narrative, instead

featuring Lamar directly communicating to this audience his desire to be treated like a normal

person and have a little space. Lamar matter-of-factly states the isolation he craves, but the

video shows us even more than words can say. Many scenes throughout the music video

show Lamar, clad in an all-white suit, isolated from those around him. In the beginning, there

are close-ups of Lamar standing alone in a section of church pews separated from other

churchgoers and a grand sweeping mid-long shot of Lamar standing out in an open field, a

singular black/white dot in a sea of green and light brown.

Moments of isolation and peace like this are juxtaposed with close-up scenes of Lamar

partying in the cramped backseat of a limousine with four or five other people, the loudest and

most close-quarters space shown in the video. The tone of the video, much like the song

itself, is defiant yet relaxed, and the juxtaposition of isolation from to saturation of people for

Lamar reflects this. Much like the bathroom scene in “Masculin Feminin” that also showed a

sense of isolation in Paul’s playful yet futile attempts to flirt with Madeline by literally forcing

Paul out of the shot entirely, Lamar shows his want for isolation and reflects the tone of the

entire song through stylistic visual choices, similar to how Godard did.

4: Long Takes and 30-Degree Rule: Jean Luc-Godard and Donald Glover

One aspect of the many that differentiated the French New Wave filmmakers from

Hollywood filmmakers of the time, was the freedom from traditional film constraints practiced

by their American counterparts in Hollywood. Because of the United States’ amassed

influence over the international movie scene, American cinematic techniques, such as the 30

Degree Rule, a rule that demands the camera move at least 30 degrees between shots in

order to seamlessly keep the audience immersed in the story and prevent jump cuts, among

others, became commonplace among filmmakers worldwide. French New Wave filmmakers,

particularly Godard, directly challenged this approach to film and would pay no mind to the 30

Degree Rule, and would often makes cuts between shots that are similarly angled. These

similarly angled shots serve to abruptly draw attention to the passage of time in a scene and

the constructed nature of film itself, as opposed to a more seamless shot transition that the 30

Degree Rule would foster. Given the film critic background of French New Wave filmmakers

including Godard and Truffaut, both of whom were film critics and avid cinephiles before even

picking up a camera, this meticulous counterattack comes across as very deliberate.

Godard’s films defy traditional filmmaking practices with their liberal use of jump cuts to

re-orient perspective and technical taste, utilizing shorter angle changes in his cuts that are

the choppy opposite to the smoother cuts of a Hollywood production. “Masculin Feminin” is an

example from 1966 that follows the exploits of Paul (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a romantic and

literary wanna-be who sets his idealistic mind on mini-celebrity Madeline (Chantal Goya) and begins a quasi-four way relationship with her two roommates, Catherine (Catherine-Isabelle

Duport) and Elisabeth (Marlène Jobert). I’ll be examining a scene detailing one of the first

interactions between Paul and Madeline to show how Godard uses jump cuts. A mid-shot of

Paul opens the scene. He is standing inconspicuously underneath a row of coat hangers with

one brown coat hanging lifeless next to him; he runs his fingers through his short brown hair

before moving his fingers nervously back and forth against themselves. To his left, the

bathroom stall door opens and Madeline steps outside. After he takes a sip or two from his

glass of water and returns to his spot next to the brown coat, the film cuts to a close shot of

Madeline’s face while standing next to the sink. Madeline and Paul continue to discuss the nature of lying and relationships.

Throughout the course of the scene, Godard’s invasive jump cuts place the audience in

a voyeuristic position, which is remarkable especially given that there are only two cuts in the

entire scene altogether. As Madeline approaches the mirror, the shot immediately cuts to the

close-up mentioned earlier; the camera repositions itself from one diagonal side of her body

to the other as Paul’s non-diegetic sound comes from the other side of the bathroom. As

opposed to an American counterpart at the time, Godard appears to be utilizing the placement

of the shot to say something, a clever implementation of another cinematic rule, Show, Don’t

Tell; with the placement of this shot, Godard is communicating the emotional distance

between Madeline and Paul, who are just beginning their courtship, by completely eliminating

the physical presence of Paul and isolating Madeline in the center of the shot while Paul asks

her questions off-screen, resulting in an awkward detached dissonance felt by the

audience and Paul as his attempts to get truthful answers from Madeline are deflected. This dissonance wouldn’t have been communicated well enough if not for the awkward and

attention-grabbing nature of the jump cuts Godard uses throughout.

A different variation on breaking the 30 degree rule can be seen in another of Godard’s

films. Set during the Algerian War for Independence, “Le Petit Soldat” (“The Little Soldier”) is a

melancholy tale of life, love, and loyalty in 1960s France. Filmed in 1960 but initially banned in

its native France for its infamous torture scene, Soldat didn’t see release until 1963, being

released as his fourth movie even though it was his second feature. The film is also notable

for featuring the first appearance of Godard’s l actress-turned wife Anna Karina.

There is one scene in particular throughout the course of “Le Petit Soldat” that

clearly emphasizes the break in the 30 degree rule: a scene where protagonist Bruno

(Michel Subor) asks questions of Veronica (Karina) while taking photographs of her.

The camerawork in this scene (and this film in general) is more creative with how it

deals with space than the similar scene in “Masculin Feminin.” As opposed to only a handful

of cuts punctuated with violations of the American-established 30 Degree Rule, Veronica and

Bruno’s interactions move faster and between many more shots. Almost every time Bruno

take a photograph of Veronica, the film cuts to a different angle, sometimes breaking the 30

Degree Rule, sometimes not; instead of breaking the rule often, Godard simply films many

long shots, panning the camera to focus on whichever character is talking at the time, further

bringing attention to the fact that this is a French New Wave film before conforming to a

variation of the standard shot-reverse-shot formula. Godard is still willing to hold a long shot, especially in the opening shot where Veronica shows Bruno around her apartment.

While Bruno’s criticism of actors in “Le Petit Soldat” features one of the longest takes in

the scene (26 seconds), that isn’t even the most intriguing aspect of the sequence; as he

mentions that “You tell them to laugh…they laugh,” he stares and smiles right at the camera

lens. This nodding self-reflexivity served to continually remind the audience that they were

indeed watching a film, one that is studying (and subverting) the history of the medium as

much as its audience was studying it. Godard’s sweeping camera movements, long takes,

and moments like Bruno smiling at the camera echoed the revolutionary sentiment of films of the French New Wave.

Clapping For The Wrong Reasons:

A figure within the world of hip-hop film who utilizes long takes of this variety is

Donald Glover. Alias Childish Gambino, Glover is an artist who takes advantage of every form

of media he possibly can, from music to television to film. Starting his career off with stand-up

comedy group Derrick Comedy on YouTube, he branched out from there and began

writing for popular NBC sitcom “30 Rock,” where he had time to further build his comedic

muscle. Around the time he left his position at “30 Rock,” Glover independently released his

first album as Childish Gambino, entitled “Sick Boi,” and branched out to an acting role on

fellow NBC sitcom “Community.” As he began to release more albums and mix tapes

(Culdesac, Camp, Royalty), he decided it was high time that he begun to make his own

independent projects in film and television as well; the first of these projects is a 24-minute short film that he wrote, co-executive produced, and starred in called Clapping For The Wrong Reasons.

Even with the French New Wave influence on the project, Clapping still feels very

much like a new age music video in the same vein as French New Wave films because of the

jump cuts and camera pans constantly reminding us that this is a work of (mostly) fiction. In

this case, it is far removed from the categories of hip-hop film that Jesse Stewart brought up

in his article “Real to Reel,” those being the pseudo-biographical hip-hop film like “Wild Style”   (Stewart 50) ,the “hood” film along the lines of “Boyz n the Hood” or “Menace II Society” (52),

and the historical recounting of the hip-hop documentary (53-55). Glover has created a film

here that features figures in contemporary hip-hop like Chance The Rapper and Trinidad

James, but isn’t so much about hip-hop itself as it is about a day in the life of a particular

artist. The fact that it feels so naturalistic yet so self aware, like films of the French New

Wave, really speaks to Glover’s eye for the existential in a screenplay and he and director

Hiro Murai’s meticulous shot composition in a similar way to Godard’s.

I’ll be looking at two scenes in particular here, namely an opening scene in the short

film where Glover answers a call from a collection agency and a push-up contest between

Glover and Chance The Rapper. As Glover is awakened from a night’s rest by a mysterious

girl, he wakes up, shirtless, and throws a shirt on before heading outside. A medium wide shot

reveals Donald walking down a hallway, rubbing his eyes and the camera pans toward the

house phone that he’s reaching for. He answers, “Hello?” The person on the other end asks

“Hello, who’s this?” “You called me.” Donald says after a pause. After mentioning the fact that she’s with a collection agency of some kind, Donald passively says “I know who you’re

looking for. He’s not here.” After a beat, the collector asks when he’ll return, to which Donald

asks her what month it is; “June, I believe,” she replies. “Well then he’s probably in the

northern hemisphere somewhere,” he says in the same flat tone before hanging up the phone and walking out of frame.

This use of a long take would have been looked down upon during the pre-French

New Wave days of cinema. By conventional Hollywood standards, a scene like this would

either be cut from different angles or simply not exist at all, and certainly wouldn’t feature a

camera pan of any kind, so as to keep up the illusion and not bring attention to the fact that an

audience is, indeed, watching a film; by letting the shot linger in real time for 48 seconds with

a pan and not featuring any additional camera angles, auteur theory (the theory of directorial

fingerprints believed/practiced by French New Wave filmmakers) would suggest that Murai

and Glover are deliberately trying to communicate something to the audience (maybe the fact

that Donald lives a quiet, mellow life from the lack of activity in the foyer or even outside) and

make an artistic statement through the panning breaking of the coveted 30 degree rule. This

stands in contrast to the photography scene in Godard’s “Le Petit Soldat” between Veronica

and Bruno with its mix of fast-cutting, different angles, and occasional long shots and harken

more to the bathroom scene from Godard’s “Masculin Feminin” which had a total of three to

four different jump cuts and a handful of longer shots.

A scene of Glover and Chance The Rapper doing push-ups in the backyard continues

the French New Wave technique seen throughout “Clapping.” While any traditional director may have rapidly intercut shots of Glover and Chance doing push-ups to increase

tension and suspense, the plainness of the set-up and the distance (long shot) betrays the

overall smallness of the competition. This shot is similar for the reasons listed in the opening

scene; there is only one jump cut in the entire scene and no angle change on the camera,

voiding the 30 Degree Rule and disrupting the flow of the cinematic universe…not really.

Being a music video director, the shot choices that Murai makes throughout Clapping For The

Wrong Reasons all come off as unorthodox, because they reflect editing techniques of

Godard and Truffaut more than anyone else.

5: Culture Shock?: Content Similarities in “Wolf” and “Jules et Jim”

Beyond many of the technical and structural similarities I’ve been covering over the

course of this journey, there are of course similarities purely in content, too. Love is an issue

that has had youth culture in a bind for decades, especially in relation to that age-old caveat,

the love triangle. The love triangle may have just re-emerged as a universally accepted plot

dynamic in contemporary culture (needless to say of just film and music), but filmmakers like

Francois Truffaut have relished the opportunity for romantic tension for quite some time.

Truffaut’s film Jules et Jim (Jules and Jim), a 1962 love story told before, during, and after

World War II in Western Europe serves as a great companion piece to portions of hip-hop

artist Tyler Okonma, aka Tyler, The Creator’s album “Wolf,” itself partially occupied with the

boiling over of a fledging love triangle. I’ll be focusing on Okonma’s third album “Wolf” in

particular here, where the aforementioned love triangle comes from. The characters of Wolf

and Samuel are largely symbolic, representing the more relaxed acceptive side and the

aggressive yet repressed side of Tyler, respectively.

Both works revolve around the start and eventual decay of a three-way relationship,

though on slightly different terms. Truffaut’s film chronicles the story of two male friends in

pre-war France: shy Austrian writer Jules (Oskar Werner) and more outward and sociable Jim

(Henri Serre), two purveyors of the then-contemporary Bohemian lifestyle. The nature of their

friendship is tested when both men meet the enchanting Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), who

both men eventually become enamored of and begin to compete for her affections, with

Catherine hopping back and forth between the men. As already stated, this is yet another Truffaut story about a young man being confronted with a life-questioning existential situation,

though this time having to do with love, one of his flourishes of auteurism. Conversely,

Okonma’s album tells the story of two boys, a mild-mannered boy named Samuel and a

seemingly more aggressive guy named Wolf, who are at odds over a girl named Salem, all

over the course of one summer at Camp Flog Gnaw. Similarly to Truffaut’s characters in Jules

et Jim, Okonma’s characters also take stock of their lives and become confused amidst a

cloud of love, his While the overall content and structure of Okonma’s project (which we’ll

come back to later) relegates the love triangle business to the b-story, Truffaut decides to

make Jules and Jim’s friendship and their identical feelings for Catherine the main narrative

thrust of Jules et Jim. Truffaut is much more pre-occupied with the concept of love, and how it

can foster, endanger, and even completely destroy friendships.

The nature of Jules and Jim’s relationship with each other is outlined neatly in the

opening sequence of the film. ‘Jules et Jim’ speeds through the origin of the two men’s

friendship, with narration from Michel Subor, before depicting a scene where both men

become entranced by a marble bust of a woman with a serene smile across her face. The

camera pans back and forth, examining the bust in all of its marble detail as Subor talks over

Jules and Jim’s sudden fascination with its face. “Had they ever seen such a smile before?

Never,” the narrator elaborated. “And if they ever met it? They’d follow it.” This beginning

scene offers the audience insight into the single mind that these two men seem to share,

confirming for us that their two sets of eyes might as well be working as one. Jules and Jim

are set up as two men who are so alike in their common interests and tastes that their

subjective view melds into one vision, a vision that will be given an ambulatory figure once

Catherine enters the picture a little later on.

Okonma structures his opening differently than Truffaut decided to, but the narrative similarity in is undeniable. On the opening track entitled ‘Wolf,’ an eerie melody gives way to a

deep-voiced camp counselor who compliments Sam’s musicianship (“Music sounds good,

man. You’ve been practicing.”), confirming that the character is the one who played the refrain

at the beginning, before introducing Sam to the new kid at Camp Flog Gnaw, Wolf. Sam is

immediately dismissive of Wolf and tells him “You stay the fuck out of our way and we’ll stay

out of yours, capisce?” As opposed to the two like-minded friends passive aggressively

competing for the hand of a woman in ‘Jules and Jim,’ Samuel and Wolf are immediately

set up as polar opposites from the jump. The overall mood of the album, which follows

both of the boys as they talk about the respective problems they have to deal with back home

(most of which are real-world problems Okonma is dealing with himself), falters between

saccharine and despondent through various moments of recollection.

The introduction we receive to Catherine in Jules and Jim is much lighter and

romanticized than Okonma’s introduction to Salem, but both stories of love follow a similar

pattern. After having seen the bust with the angelic face and smile, both Jules and Jim both

attend a lunch, set up by the promiscuous Jim, with “A girl from Berlin, one from Holland, and

a French girl.” It’s at this lunch that the two friends meet Catherine, who bears a striking

resemblance to the perfection of the bust that they saw earlier. As the group has lunch

together, Jules and Jim have a silent battle with Catherine’s feet under the table. Jim touches

Catherine’s feet, but she gently moves them out of the way. Sitting next to Jules, a black

outline covers the screen except for a box showing Catherine and Jules’ heads as the

narrator tells the audience that “a shy, happy smile played on Jules’ lips,” him beating Jim at

his own game and seeing Catherine for a little over a month after their lunch.

While Truffaut makes the relationship between the three lovers in Jules and Jim the

main narrative thrust, Okonma relegates it more to the background, but even though his personal life serves as the main inspiration for the spat between Samuel and Wolf, he

manages to relate it all back to the love story at the core of the story of ‘Wolf.’ The gruff

Samuel tells Wolf of how he first met Salem, the girl that both boys eventually fall for, on the

song ‘Awkward.’ He spends the length of the song elegantly describing how awkward their

first encounter was with lines like “I play in your hair as you rub on my ears. Then we

awkwardly stare until our lips locked, then we awkwardly stared because our lips

locked…Man, this feels like a dream because our lips locked, you officially put my feelings

inside a Ziplock bag.” Samuel’s tough-boy exterior fades for a while in the middle of his

reminiscing about how he wants Salem to “treat my palms like a bowling ball and grip and

keep holding on, girl,” revealing that even though their relationship may have had an awkward

start, he loves the way that she makes him feel and he wants to continue being around her.

As the relationship between the three continues to develop, from foot races across

miniature bridges to spontaneous dives into the river fully clothed, the audience is offered a

view of a sort of polyamorous relationship, with all three members taking a liking to each other

and getting into all kinds of silly adventures. This is in direct contrast to the darker tone of

Sam/Wolf/Salem’s relationship troubles in ‘Wolf.’ Sam is a volatile kid at summer camp whose

few fleeting moments of happiness come from his girlfriend, Salem. When she runs off with

the new kid Wolf, he goes on a rampage and eventually winds up killing Wolf. While taking

place in different times and indeed in different parts of the world, the respective stories of

Jules et Jim and “Wolf” both approach romance in an unconventional way. Given the FNW’s

pretense toward this kind of subject matter that I’ve showcased already (Masculin Feminin, Le

Petit Soldat), that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Okonma and Truffaut attack the concept of the love triangle from different tonal angles

and seem to have different things to say about young love, at first. The dark, brooding angst felt through the story of ‘Wolf’ couldn’t be any different from the first act of ‘Jules and Jim,’ with

the trio frolicking the streets of Paris together and having crazy adventures. But as both

stories come to their respective ends, both stories end in the unexpected death of one part of

the respective trio. ‘Jules and Jim’ ends with a distraught Catherine, now having left Jules for

Jim while still maintaining the group dynamic they had before, asking Jim to take a car ride

with her, saying that she has something important to tell him. She then drives the car off of a

cliff into the water, killing both herself and Jim. The climax of ‘Wolf’ finds Sam on the warpath

after finding out about Wolf and Salem’s frolicking by the lake. Sam kicks down Wolf’s cabin

door and guns him down in cold blood. Both ending are unexpectedly violent, but beyond that

superficial similarity, they both ask one important question: what next? Jules is left to deal

with the ashes of his deceased friends, while we never do figure out what happens between

Samuel and Salem. Do Samuel and Salem patch things up? Does Samuel go to jail? Does

Jules end up keeping the ashes of his deceased friends over his fireplace or release them

over another lake? Both endings take both works to their illogical extremes and leave us with

more questions than answers, which may be the point that both Truffaut and Okonma might

be trying to make. With a construct as unpredictable as a love triangle, anything could

happen. We all make our own ending. Both Jules et Jim and “Wolf” prove that three-way

romance knows no national border and that Truffaut and Okonma both helm their respective works with the hand of an auteur.

Epilogue: Revolutionary Context

It’s safe to say that at this point, the parallels, similarities, and differences between the

French New Wave and the Hip-Hop New Wave have been made apparent. But the only

remaining question to ask is one that pervades the whole of both movements and one that

I’ve merely scratched the surface of prior: What was the catalyst for both of these respective

movements? What were the respective contexts that kickstarted these revolutionary

movements? What were the domestic and international models and situations that birthed them?

I’ve mentioned Hollywood films and the Hollywood aesthetic many times over the

course of this analysis, but only because the Hollywood model of the 30s and 40s, from

subject matter to shooting style, was so utterly dominant of the international cinematic stage.

Scholar Cecile Sorin notes as such in his article The art of borrowing: French popular cinema

before the New Wave, referencing the saturation of Hollywood films in the French film market

at the end of World War II and in the wake of the Blum-Byrnes agreement of 1946, an

agreement that erased much of France’s debt to America after World War I (Sorin 53). Even

with the extra American influence, French filmmakers and film companies still managed to

circumvent these foreign imports by creating versions of their own. By borrowing certain

genres and mechanics that were popular in America at the time, particularly in the Western and the police thriller/gangster film, French filmmakers found a way to “acquire Hollywood

know-how, but mock it in a political context framed by the Blum-Byrnes agreement and

American anti-communism…It became more than simply a political attitude; it became a way

of thought.” (Sorin 54) This new trend of borrowing from American cinema was very much

debated at the time, with many holding said films and their imitators under scrutiny simply

because of the fact that they came from the US. Others took the time to recognize talent in

American filmmakers and judge their work based solely on style. The latter camp was staffed

by Andre Bazin and Alexandre Astruc, major critical players in what would become the

magazine Cahier du Cinema and the French New Wave.

This borrowing extended into the FNW, of course. Sorin notes that filmmakers of the

FNW had actually learned a lesson from contemporary popular French cinema, that being

“this ability to absorb American cinema in the pursuit of its own identity.” (62) As former critics

themselves, Truffaut and especially Godard, among their other peers in the movement, were

able to step back and examine exactly what about American films worked, and what wasn’t

worth preserving in their own translation, in order to establish themselves as the independent

renegades that they would eventually become. As much as the FNW may borrow and mock

American cinema, it wouldn’t exist without the influence and ideas that American imported films brought their way

The beginnings of hip-hop on American shores also stem from growth following a landmark legislature. The America of the 1970s existed in the aftermath of the Civil Rights

Movement and the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, rectifying the forced second-class

citizenship of African-Americans. According to scholar Nelson George, whose first chapter of

the book “Hip-Hop America” details some of the struggles of 1970s America, especially

African Americans. The “new black middle class,” as George calls it, was facing a new

challenge in post-Civil Rights Act America: integrating and being accepted into a still

predominantly white-run society (George 2). This also led to record companies, still living off

of the money generated by countercultural artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, etc, creating

“black music” divisions that would sniff out talent off the beaten path like the aforementioned.

George draws the path that starts with the rise and fall of popularity regarding disco music in

the 1970s, a black-centric genre of music at the time. He estimates that thanks to the

combination of crossover appeal, the inescapability and profitability of disco, and the newly

corporate-owned American record business led to them snatching up whatever new fads they

could find, disco included: “The group mindset that grew out of this concentration of record

companies, and the tendency of its executives to make professional judgments while doing

blow in restroom stalls, is one reason the most important musical-cultural phenomenon of the

last twenty years took so long to go mainstream.” (George 9)

Discotheques, early variations on nightclubs, was where you’d find the hottest recorded

music on the street at the time. Three artists/DJs/emcees who would play discotheques/club

often were known as Afrika Bambatta, Kool Herc, and Grandmaster Flash, all of whom can be

credited with the rise in popularity of hip-hop over the course of the 1980s (George 17-18). The first breakout single in hip-hop history of course belongs to The Sugarhill Gang, whose

song “Rapper’s Delight” kicked off the mainstream visibility of the medium that Bambatta,

Herc, and Flash would help to refine.

In the construction of “beats,” the colloquial slang for the instrumentation of a hip-hop

track, more often then not the art of sampling is involved, especially in the early days of the

medium. For example, the beat behind “Rapper’s Delight” is the breakdown of the song “Good

Times” by disco-funk-rock act Chic. But sampling tends to go deeper than that. Many

producers, from Bambatta and the like, up to contemporary producers/DJs such as Madlib or

The RZA, will pull or borrow samples from various songs in order to craft something new out

of them. Producers will pull a drum loop from one song, some guitar or synths from another

song, etc until they’ve created a wall of sound constructed from other songs. While not what

every producer today might use, this style of hip-hop production was the standard in the

beginning stages of the genre and continues to be a popular avenue for production to this

day. Public Enemy, a group formed in 1982 consisting of emcee Chuck D and hype man

Flavor Flav, utilized this sampling techniques with their production team The Bomb Squad and

mixed it with a socio-political edge that brought them much mainstream success on their third album, “Fear of a Black Planet.”

At their very cores, both hip-hop, contemporary or old-school, and films of the French

New Wave are bound together in this respect. They both not only pull from older source

material in order to establish their own individual identity, but they both did so in a

revolutionary fashion unlike any other that had been seen before in either of their respective mediums. My hope is that throughout the course of this paper, I’ve proved that point.


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The 400 Blows. Dir. Francois Truffaut. Cocinor. 1959. Film.

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Juice. Dir. Ernest R. Dickerson. 1992. DVD

Jules et Jim. Dir. Francois Truffaut. Janus Films. 1962. DVD

Masculin Feminin. Dir. Jean-Luc Godard. 1966. VHS

Menace II Society. The Hughes Brothers. 1993. DVD

Le Petit Soldat. Dir. Jean-Luc Godard. 1963. DVD


Chance The Rapper, Acid Rap (Independent, 2013)

Childish Gambino, Because The Internet (Glassnote, 2013)

Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d. city (Interscope, 2012)

Tyler The Creator, WOLF (Sony Music Entertainment, 2013)