MIA (England) – “Borders” link to music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-Nw7HbaeWY


MIA (England) – “Borders” link to music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-Nw7HbaeWY

Paper details:


For this assignment, you will pick one of the songs listed below and analyze it in terms of the themes explored through Mix 3 (for example, resistance/protest/blackness/indigeneity/imperialism/ immigrant belonging, etc.).

Your short essay should be about 500-600 words and should:

Introduce the track in a single sentence summarizing its significance
Summarize the lyrical content
Contextualize/explain that content to the best of your ability, citing and paraphrasing 2 online sources that are not Wikipedia
Note what position the artist speaks from and to whom they are speaking. Sometimes rappers assume personalities or identities that are not their own in order to tell a story. Sometimes they might emphasize elements of their own identity or background.
Describe the visuals and their relationship to the lyrics and content. Don’t force an analysis here; the relationship may be one in which the visuals support the lyrics, add a layer of meaning unspoken in the lyrics, contradict or seem to work against the lyrics, or have nothing to do with the lyrics at all. Please note that you have to use an actual music video for your assignment to be successful; don’t choose a lyric video (i.e. one in which the lyrics appear against a blank background or against still photos that someone other than the artist posted).
Describe the musical track (as in, what it sounds like) and its relationship to the lyrics and content. Again, don’t force an analysis here; the music may work to localize the song or underscore the artist’s personal identity; it may contain vocal samples that add a layer of meaning; it may simply make the song aesthetically pleasing.
Reflect on the song’s impact by directly relating it to materials, themes, and questions from Mix 2
The idea here is to listen to the song and watch the video several times, taking notes on the points above as you study the lyrics, examine the images, listen to the music, research the historical context of and information about the specific artist; and then analyze how all these come together to communicate a message. You are not tasked with Googling a specific song and summarizing the information or analysis you find; submissions that base their analysis on existing online analyses will be in violation of Cornell’s academic integrity policy and won’t receive credit.

Here is the mix 2 assignment referenced

For your second research assignment, you are going to analyze the use of samples in two different songs, using whosampled.com as a resource. It’s best to begin this assignment once you’ve already completed the first half of Track 5.

1. Choose two songs from the following list:

Tupac “Changes”
Notorious B.I.G. “Hypnotize”
Junior Mafia “Get Money”
Eminem “My Name Is”
Jay-Z – “Lucifer”
Snoop Dogg “What’s My Name”
A Tribe Called Quest “Can I Kick It”
Drake “Pound Cake”
The Fugees “Ready or Not”
Lil Wayne “A Milli”
Nicky Minaj “Anaconda”
Kendrick Lamar “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”
Ariana Grande “Break Your Heart right Back”
T.I. and Jay-Z “Swagga Like Us”
Missy Elliott “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”
Kanye West “Jesus Walks”
The Fugees “Killing Me Softly”
A Tribe Called Quest “Bonita Applebaum”
Jay Z “Big Pimpin”
Salt-n-Pepa “Push It”
Ludacris “Roll Out”
Drake “Fancy”
Mos Def “Ms. Fat Booty”

2. Go to whosampled.com and look up the samples used in each of your songs. For each sampled element, listen to the original, and then listen to the hip-hop song you’ve chosen (whosampled tells you exactly where the samples appear).

3. Describe the way each sample is being used musically in the hip-hop track. Is a long phrase cut and looped? Are there short snippets that appear only once or a few times? Is it the basis of the refrain? Is it altered somehow – maybe pitched higher or lower, slowed down or sped up?

4. Describe how the samples relate to eachother in the hip-hop track. Are they layered? Do they alternate? Are they combined with non-sampled elements?

Note: This is not a test of your specialized musical knowledge! Use the language you have to describe what the music sounds like to you, and rely on the materials from Track 4 to help you. You are not being evaluated on your grasp of western music theory, but on your ability to hear and describe–in whatever mode is available to you–the way samples operate in a track.

5. Analyze the level of symbolic meaning the sample assumes in the hip-hop track. For some songs, you may find that the sample plays a purely musical role; if that’s the case, you should reflect on how the sample sets the musical tone for what’s happening in the lyrics. For others, you may find that something about the sample evokes a meaning either contrary to or aligned with that of the hip-hop song.

Hint: Before turning your assignment in, compare it to the attached rubric to make sure you haven’t missed anything!

SAMPLE ASSIGNMENT (Partial – 1 of 2 examples)

Notorious B.I.G.’s song contains one musical sample and two lyrical “samples.” The musical sample is from “Between the Sheets,” a 1983 song by the soul band The Isley Brothers. The sample constitutes the backbone of the instrumental; the opening instrumental riff from “Between the Sheets”, before the singers enter, is cut and looped continuously through Biggie’s song, at a slightly faster speed and higher pitch than the original. The sample is layered with drums and a synthesizer riff over the top of the track. Biggie also quotes his self reference as “Big Poppa” from his and Puff Daddy’s 1993 remix of Mary J. Blige’s “Dolly My Baby,” while the line “to all the ladies in the place with style and grace,” is a reference to the 1985 eponymous song “Bad Boys.”

In terms of musical meaning or symbolic sampling, this sample relates directly to the message in the Biggie song. The original Isley Brother’s song is a sultry description of “making love between the sheets,” and the song’s laid back feel and twanging bass support the lyrical message. In “Big Poppa,” Biggie raps about his sexual prowess, or his lyrical prowess–the song slips between the two meanings.

In summary, please write 500-600 words on MIA’s “Borders” in accordance with the above guidelines. Attached you find the rubric.

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