Trapping ecosystems: Apeshit’s fugitive politics of post/coloniality

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Garrido Castellano, Carlos
Rollefson, J. Griffith
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University of California Press
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On June 16, 2018, Beyoncé and Jay-Z released “Apeshit”—a trap-styled hip hop track featuring a chorus of “I can’t believe we made it / Have you ever seen the crowd going apeshit?” The much-commented-on music video for the track was framed as a hip hop takeover of the world’s most visited museum—Paris’s Louvre—featuring pop’s reigning power couple, marketed as “The Carters,” making themselves at home with a collection of dancers in flesh-colored black, brown, and beige bodysuits. While the video was generally received through the split-screen frame of either a cutting decolonial takedown of this monument to Western civilization or the ultimate in money-flaunting bling spectacle, a more subtle and complex set of issues is at play. This article examines the deep historical ambivalences at play in this pop cultural artifact. Employing multi-modal methodologies that combine visual and musical arts perspectives articulated via the frames of postcolonial studies, this analysis theorizes the cultural “traps” in effect. Ranging from the track’s “trap” sonic production and lyrical rhetoric of escape (“we made it”), to the historical trap of musealized colonial plunder and the Louvre’s labyrinthine, oft-subterranean floor plan, to the “trappings” of consumption, bourgeois self-making, and aesthetic contemplation, we seek to illustrate how this socio-cultural text destabilizes Enlightenment universalism and its public/private split.
Apeshit , Trap music , Hip hop , Decolonization , Museums , Post/colonial studies , Fugitivity , The Carters , Beyoncé , Jay-Z
Garrido Castellano, C. and Rollefson, J. G. (2023) 'Trapping ecosystems: Apeshit’s fugitive politics of post/coloniality', Journal of Popular Music Studies, 35(1), pp. 20-45. doi: 10.1525/jpms.2023.35.1.20
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© 2023, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, U.S. Branch (IASPM-US).