In 2018, hip-hop boasted a third of all music played on digital streaming platforms. As such, there is a demonstrably vast audience that participates in contemporary hip-hop culture, from its music to its multimodal effects on language, dance, graphic arts, fashion, and new media. The research project Digital Flows uses digital methods to analyse hip-hop and the Internet along three lines of inquiry: how musical expression and discussion amplify contemporary identity discourses; how local and virtual communities form around interaction with multimedia artefacts; and how hip-hop artworks and attitudes critique mainstream politics and contribute to social change.
The project develops a new web-oriented methodology of synergistic data-driven and case study research into online cultural networks. The focus is on hip-hop’s listener base, which includes many young and/or marginalised people whose lives are increasingly lived online as much as on the street. The findings of this investigation into music culture will shed light on European policy issues concerning online cultural expression, Internet accessibility, and education.