Chris Tabron

Chris Tabron is a record producer and audio engineer, as well as the founder of The Axis Collective. He has worked with a wide array of artists including Jason Mraz, Robin Thicke, Death Cab for Cutie, Mike Posner, Japanese Voyeurs, and Gordon Voidwell. A Ph.D. candidate at New York University’s Department of Music, his doctoral work focuses on New York hip-hop production between 1989 and 1999.



"'Boom It in Ya Jeep': Low-end Theories of Black Aurality in 90's NYC Hip-Hop"

“Do it for the strong / We do it for the meek / Boom it in ya, boom it in ya, boom it in ya Jeep.” When a 21-year-old Queens native flowed over a crunchy Five Stairsteps sample in the 1991 track, “Jazz (We Got),” 90’s hip-hop was officially in full swing. Picking up where Prince Paul and Stetsasonic left off in 1988 with “Talkin’ All That Jazz,” Q-Tip’s verse offered a way of understanding black cultural commentaries as sonic configurations. The kicks thumped, the snares cracked—and with the advent of portable sound systems—they were on the move. This paper examines the sonic characteristics of a selection of 90’s NYC hip-hop recordings with an ear towards how the aural relationships between producers and engineers in the recording studio interacted with the architectural and cultural layout of the city. The practices of recontextualizing old sound through sampling, using microphones to amplify underrepresented voices, and producing tracks with prevalent low frequency sounds are modes of destabilizing class boundaries in NYC that provide new perspectives on the sonic imprint of hip-hop cultural production.

This paper considers how hip-hop aurality intersects with a discourse of embodiment, though the tripartite manner in which sound impacts bodies: 1) the change in recording studios sequestering engineers from producers, thus unifying performing and technical bodies, 2) changing the sonic imprint of hip-hop music and how audiences moved to the music, and 3) through creating an aggressive sound unfettered by the structural boundaries of the city.