Music, News & Events

Congress wants to help you make a fire mixtape

Samples released.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Apr 30, 2020

Brian Foo, the 2020 Innovator-in-Residence at the Library of Congress, specializes in the visualization of large collections of media for the public. In collaboration with The Library of Congress, he’s developing Citizen DJ – an open source online sampling tool that invites the public to make hip hop music using the Library’s public audio and moving image collections.

The purpose is for listeners to discover items in the Library’s vast collection through hip hop music. The app is a very simple (for those well versed in the world of coding) front-end web application built with Javascript, HTML, and CSS. Jekyll is used to manage content and generate the static front-end website. 



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Scheduled to fully launch online in the Summer of 2020, Citizen DJ will give users access to the Library’s century-old public audio and moving image collections. It is a whole new world of discoveries and one that is sure to promote the production of new hip hop tracks. Users can acquire these collections by either using the interface that explores sound and metadata, the music-creation app that allows users to remix collections, or by downloading “sample packs” that contain thousands of audio clips from a specific collection that are compatible with most music production software.

Foo stated that Citizen DJ is meant to revive the sampling technique from the golden age of hip-hop, by avoiding the trouble of unauthorized samples and copyright issues: “Today, collage-based hip hop as it existed in the golden age is largely a lost (or at best, a prohibitively expensive) artform,” he said. “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.”

Here you can check out the Citizen DJ preview.