Hip Hop, Cop Voice and the Cadence of White Supremacy in the United States

Masterclass with Dr. Jennifer Lynn Stoever (Binghamton University, SUNY)

Date: Monday 10 December, 10:00-12:00
Location: Potgieterzaal, University Library (UB), Singel 425, Amsterdam
Registration: nica-fgw@uva.nl
Contact: C.J.Birdsall@uva.nl

During this masterclass, we will discuss how police officers in the United States use a racialized and gendered way of speaking called ‘cop voice’ to provoke fear and extreme forms of compliance from people of colour. Through autoethnographic analysis coupled with sonic attention to how Jay-Z (‘99 Problems’), Public Enemy (‘Get the Fuck Out of Dodge’) and Prince Paul (‘The Men in Blue’) represent ‘cop voice’ through shifts in their rapping flow or by using white guest rappers, we will explore how police weaponize their voices. Identifying and listening closely to these examples of cop voice reveals how people who are raced as ‘white’ in the United States mobilize this subject position in their voices through particular cadences that audibly signify racial authority, while at the same time, never hearing themselves as doing so.

Reading preparation

NPR interview with Angela Ritchie + excerpt from Angela Ritchie, Invisible No More: Police Violence against Black Women and Women of Color. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2017.



– Stoever, Jennifer L. “The Sonic Color Line, Black Women, and Police Violence.” Black Perspectives, 9 July 2018, www.aaihs.org/the-sonic-color-line-black-women-and-police-violence/

– Stoever, Jennifer L. “‘Doing fifty-five in a fifty-four’: Hip Hop, Cop Voice and the Cadence of White Supremacy in the United States.” Journal for Interdisciplinary Voice Studies 3.2 (forthcoming 2018): 115-131. [NB: this is a proofs copy, please do not circulate without permission of the author]

– Bradley, Regina, “SANDRA BLAND: #SayHerName Loud or Not at All.” Sounding Out! 16 November 2015, https://soundstudiesblog.com/2015/11/16/sandra-bland-sayhername-loud/