30th March 2021
We’re pleased to announce the publication of How Music Empowers, a new book by CIPHER team member Dr. Steven Gamble. Steve’s research for this book, mostly undertaken prior to the CIPHER project, is impactful and important for hip hop audiences, especially people who are into contemporary rap. Artists including Little Simz, Drake, Missy Elliott, Brockhampton, and Chance the Rapper are discussed – and a bunch of metal artists too! The book is great reading for anyone excited by how the listening process works (what happens in the mind and body), and how music affects emotions, alters behaviour, and incites action.
To purchase a copy or for further information go to www.howmusicempowers.com
27th July 2020
We are thrilled to announce that the Global Hip Hop Studies (GHHS) Journal has been published.
We would like to thank all the artists, editors and scholars for their hard work and efforts for helping to produce our inaugural publication.
*Please note that this position is now filled. - July 2020
We are delighted to announce that we are currently looking for a new PhD student with a specialisation in the hip hop cultures for North America. Researchers with research interests and/or specialisms examining transnational connections to North America (broadly conceived) hip hop communities and scenes are also welcome.
Closing date for applications is 19th May 2020.
CIPHER: Hip Hop Interpellation Research Team
One PhD Studentship in Hip Hop Studies is available at the Department of Music in the School of Film, Music, and Theatre at University College Cork. The position is funded by the European Research Council. The study of global hip hop knowledge flows will synergize ethnographic and computational methods to examine how hip hop “unlocks the global through the local.” The principal investigator of the project is Professor J. Griffith Rollefson.
CIPHER’s study of global hip hop knowledge flows will synergize ethnographic and computational methods to examine how we might conceive of hip hop as a form of “bottom-up globalization.” The successful candidates may have a disciplinary background rooted in any of the four traditional “elements” of hip hop (DJing/turntablism, MCing/rapping, graffiti/street art, bboy/bgirl dance) or any university discipline, but must demonstrate a deep knowledge of and commitment to hip hop’s “fifth element”: knowledge (of self). The PhD student researcher will also demonstrate an interest in the theory and methods of ethnographic fieldwork and/or community engaged scholarship. The successful candidate will have research interests in one or more geographic communities and an ability to do community-engaged work across various cultural sites and scenes. In their project proposal, applicants are expected to outline how their research record, interests, and skills align with the CIPHER initiative, namely, how they might explore hip hop’s localizations in their field(s) of cultural specialization. Citing specific “gems” of local hip hop knowledge in the context of the proposal will be particularly advantageous.
The PhD student researcher will be supervised by J. Griffith Rollefson, and work with postdoctoral researchers, a team of computational analysts, and an advisory board of established global hip hop scholars. The successful candidate will receive a monthly stipend, have access to dedicated funds for ethnographic research and conference travel, and assist with the organization of CIPHER’s international conferences and publications.
The successful candidate is expected to live in Cork, Ireland and become part of the research environment/network of the university and contribute to its development. The PhD student will be expected to work with the CIPHER team, present research papers at workshops and conferences, and contribute to popular dissemination of the research results.
In the evaluation of the applications, emphasis will be placed on:
- the candidate’s scholarly merit, research-related relevance, and innovation
- demonstrated knowledge of hip hop music and culture in local and global perspective
- demonstrated experience in ethnographic and/or community-engaged research in one or more cultural, geographic, or linguistic field sites
- good co-operative skills, and the ability to successfully join in academic collaboration within and across disciplines
CIPHER is a part of the UCC’s School of Film, Music, and Theatre and is located in the new Wandesford Quay Research Centre in Cork’s city centre.
Studentships are open immediately for application.
Applicants should hold a Masters degree in a relevant research area (related to one of the four traditional elements of hip hop or in a relevant university discipline). Ideally applicants will be able to demonstrate an interest in both theoretical and methodological skills of hip hop studies, with a keen interest in hip hop community and knowledge flows.
The successful applicants will each receive total stipend funding of €16,000 per annum for a minimum of three years and an annual contribution of €5,770 to cover EU tuition fees. Non-EU candidates are encouraged to apply and eligible for the full stipend but, if successful, will need to cover non-EU fees (totalling ca. €7,230) themselves.
General enquires about the PhD positions can be made to Prof. J. Griffith Rollefson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications by email to email@example.com and must include "CIPHER PhD Studentship” in the subject line.
Applications must include, in a single PDF document:
- one-page (max, single spaced) cover letter describing your relevant experience and interest in the post;
- two-page (max, single spaced) PhD research proposal: 1.) outlining research questions, theory, methods, and research site(s); and 2.) explaining how the research relates to the CIPHER initiative by offering examples of “gems of hip hop knowledge” (lyrical, sonic, performative, etc.) from your research site(s);
- full CV;
- transcripts of results for all university level modules and courses (BA and MA).
Submission Deadline date: 19 May 2020
Start date: Studentships start from September 2020.
PRESS RELEASE - 3rd February 2020
Worldwide search for Hip Hop’s global gems is on
• Call out for hip hop fans to name their top five artists
• World’s first academic journal on hip hop launches
A global search for the defining gems of Hip Hop is on, as the world’s first global study of hip hop
launches at University College Cork (UCC).
Hip hop fans from Cork to Cape Town will be encouraged to name the top five artists, tracks and
gems of hip hop knowledge.
With a grant from the EU, UCC Professor J Griffith Rollefson has commenced CIPHER (Le Conseil
International pour Hip Hop et Recherche), a five-year research initiative. The research will be
analysing the emergence, spread, and influence of rap music and hip hop culture on six continents.
“Over the course of the next six months, we’ll be rolling out a series of social media requests asking
fans to name the top five artists, tracks, and gems of hip hop knowledge,” said Rollefson, who has
assembled a team of academics to assist in this study. Among them are Warrick Moses (PhD Harvard
2019), and Jason Ng (PhD Monash 2019), scholars of African and Asian hip hop, respectively.
These ‘gems’ can be any hip hop related lyrics that are memorable or culturally significant –
especially those with local importance.
“For instance, the concept of the ‘third eye’ of hip hop ‘consciousness’ is built upon a South Asian
spiritual concept, but has become a gem in the music of New York’s Rakim, Oakland’s Hieroglyphics,
Marseille’s IAM, Birmingham’s Juice Aleem, and countless other hip hop artists. We want to see how
that knowledge transfer happens,” Rollefson said.
“Everything from Irish to Chinese legends get incorporated into hip hop. We want to help build a
community where an artist from Tanzania can meet and collaborate with an artist from, say, Brazil,”
A computational data analytics team will crowdsource hip hop gems via their @GlobalCIPHER twitter
handle. The team will not only collect data, but then travel across the globe to follow up with local
hip hop communities, interviewing MCs, DJs, dancers, graffiti artists, and fans from Athens to Tunis
to Tokyo. Those interested in getting involved are encouraged to get in contact on social media or at
the dedicated website www.ucc.ie/cipher.
As part of the initiative, Rollefson just launched the world’s first academic journal on the subject,
Global Hip Hop Studies, with the first issue due to publish in June. Co-edited with CIPHER Board
member, Adam Haupt (University of Cape Town), the journal will report on everything hip hop,
including features, interviews, and artist-authored pieces, as well as articles and book, media, and
5 things that will surprise you about hip hop
1. It has been the best-selling genre in the US for the second year running and the Canadian hip hop
artist, Drake, is the world’s most-streamed artist.
2. Hip hop’s poetry, politics, and musical artistry have been the focus of academic studies for at
least 25 years. Tricia Rose’s 1994, Black Noise, is still a go-to text for the field of hip hop studies.
3. In 2018, rapper Kendrick Lamar received the Pulitzer Prize for Music. His album DAMN, was
acknowledged as “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic
4. With initiatives such as the Next Level Program, the US State Department has been sending hip
hop artists around the globe to perform and teach as cultural ambassadors since 2001.
5. The Universal Hip Hop Museum will open in New York City in 2023, with the mission to “preserve
the history of local and global hip hop music and culture to inspire, empower, and promote
5 things you did not know about Irish Hip Hop
1. Artists such as Muipead and Kneecap Rap in the Irish (Gaelic) Language.
2. Scary Éire pioneered their signature “Celtic Funk” in the early 1990s.
3. Rusangano Family’s Afrobeat-Inspired Irish Grime earned them the Choice Music Prize for Album
of the Year in 2016.
4. Tradtablism is a fusion of Irish traditional music and hip hop turntablism pioneered by Limerick
DJs, Danny Deepo, Mikey Fingers, and Deviant.
5. Artists from Marxman to Lunitíc and Temper-Mental MissElayneous have banged out hip hop
beats on the Bodhrán—the traditional Irish frame drum. Lunitíc even released a whole album of
traditional Irish ballads.
Notes to the Editor:
Prof Rollefson recently took home the Ruth Stone Book Prize from the Society for
Ethnomusicology for his book “Flip the Script: European Hip hop and the Politics of
Postcoloniality” (https://europeanhiphop.org/) and will now combine his expertise on
European and North American hip with the knowledge held by Moses, Ng, and the hip hop
heads and artists who choose to participate in the crowdsourcing phase of the citizenscience
• CIPHER is supported by a €2m grant from the European Research Council and will run at UCC
through 2024, implementing a community-driven data science project fully in compliance
with EU GDPR law.
• Rollefson was featured on a live Blindboy Podcast about Irish hip hop with the Cork DJ,
Stevie G in December 2018.
• Rollefson’s history of Irish hip hop will be published as part of Made in Ireland (Mangaoang,
O’Flynn, Ó Briain) – the first book-length collection of popular music in Ireland (Routledge
• In addition to publishing scholarship on the findings and presenting research at the Trinity
Hip Hop Festival and European Hip Hop Studies Network conferences, CIPHER will create a
global hip hop textbook and publish policy papers to help the EU and UNESCO leverage hip
hop knowledges into creating more equitable education structures and tools for social
• February is Black History Month in the US.
Articles about the CIPHER project have appeared in the following press:
Hip-hop's obsession with combat imagery is about more than violence - The Conversation
Kfm Radio Kildare - Soundcloud, Kfm
Is Cork the Hip-Hop capital of Europe? - Soul Doubt Magazine
Academic Hip hop journal to be unveiled - Irish Examiner
Shining a light on European Hip hop - Cork Independent