Written by Luke Alex Davis 4:47 pm Sampling

Citizen DJ: the Library of Congress’s hip hop sampling tool

The Library of Congress will launch its open-source sampling tool in the summer for users to try their hand at the artform.

Citizen DJ: the Library of Congress's hip hop sampling tool

The J Dilla collection at the Smithsonian was a remarkable feat for hip hop and sampling as components of music culture. But now sampling has its own specific place in another American institution and it’s called Citizen DJ.

What is Citizen DJ?

Citizen DJ is the name of the open source sampling tool created by data viz artist and Innovator-in-Residence, Brian Foo. It launches officially in the summer and will allow users to access an expansive audio file collection, dating back as far as the early 1900s.

There will be 3 ways to access these sound files:

  • An interface to search and “explore” the various sounds and metadata
  • An app for sampling and remixing the audio files with hip hop beats
  • A collection of sample packs featuring thousands of clips from particular collections

According to Brian Foo, his intention with Citzen DJ is to “bring back the golden age of hip-hop sampling”:

“Today, collage-based hip hop as it existed in the golden age is largely a lost (or at best, a prohibitively expensive) artform. I believe if there was a simple way to discover, access, and use public domain audio and video material for music making, a new generation of hip hop artists and producers can maximize their creativity, invent new sounds, and connect listeners to materials, cultures, and sonic history that might otherwise be hidden from public ears.”

Brian Foo

It’s not officially launched yet but you can beta test Citizen DJ by playing around with the preview.