“Where They At,” or “Wha Dey At,” is the title of a song generally recognized as the first bounce release, recorded in late 1991 as a cassette-only release by rapper T.T. Tucker, with the late DJ Irv. It was also recorded a few months after by DJ Jimi Payton for producer Isaac Bolden’s Soulin’ Records/Avenue Distribution. To all accounts, these recordings marked the point in time at which New Orleans rap first found its own voice in that raw, celebratory, infectious block-party style.
Bounce’s signature rhythms and call-and-response chants are deeply rooted in New Orleans’ cultural heritage, including Mardi Gras Indian and second-line traditions. The exhibit “Where They At” documents pioneering New Orleans rappers from the 1980’s, 1990’s, and early 2000’s, the period when bounce music melded and interplayed with lyrical hip-hop and gangsta rap in New Orleans to create a unique, hybrid Crescent City hip-hop sound – the newest branch of Southern roots music.
Photographer Aubrey Edwards and journalist Alison Fensterstock, over the course of 18 months, photographed and interviewed more than 40 rappers, DJs, producers, label and record store owners from the New Orleans bounce and hip-hop music scene. This archive includes original portraits and interview excerpts, original video and audio, and collected artifacts including vintage records, tapes, scene snapshots and other ephemera.
Alison Fensterstock is a New Orleans-based music journalist. From 2006-2009, she wrote an award-winning music column for the city's alt-weekly, The Gambit. Her writing on roots music and New Orleans rap has appeared in MOJO, Vibe, Q, Paste, Spin and the Oxford American Music Issue. Recently, she wrote the text for "Unsung Heroes: The Secret History of Louisiana Rock n' Roll," an exhibit currently on display at the Louisiana State Museum. She is the programming director for the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation. Her Gambit cover story on gay and transgendered bounce artists in New Orleans, "Sissy Strut," was selected for an honorable mention in Da Capo Press's Best American Music Writing 2009.
Aubrey Edwards is a Brooklyn and New Orleans-based music photographer and educator. Edwards was an award-winning, primary music photographer for the alt-weekly Austin Chronicle from 2004-2008; her present client list includes the United Nations, Magnolia Pictures, Playboy, SPIN, XXL and Comedy Central. She teaches photography and videography in low-income NYC public schools, and runs a continued education photography school in downtown Brooklyn. Her recent work in New Orleans includes guest lecturing with the University of New Orleans photo department, conducting workshops with the New Orleans Kid Camera Project, and completing an artist residency with Louisiana Artworks.
Abita Beer, Abrons Art Center, Adrian Saldana, Alex Rawls & OffBeat magazine, Austin Powell, Chris Robinson, Colin Meneghini, Dr. Ira Padnos & The Ponderosa Stomp, Emil Nassar, Eric Brightwell, Heather West, Iris Brooks, Jacob Devries, Jayme McLellan & Civilian Art Projects, Jeremy Smith, John and Glenda "Goldie Roberts", John Swenson, Johnathan Durham, Jordan Hirsch & Aimee Bussells, Loren K. Phillips Fouroux, Matt Miller, Matt Sakakeeny PhD, Matt Sonzala, Michael Bateman, Neighborhood Story Project, Our Kickstarter Supporters, Patrick Strange, Polo Silk, Rachel Ornelas & the Jazz and Heritage Festival, Scott Aiges, Sean Yent Schuster-Craig, Stephen Thomas, The Birdhouse Gallery, The Soap Factory, Wild Wayne & Industry Influence
D. Lefty Parker | Audio Mastering
Erik Kiesewetter/EBSL | Art Direction & Design
Rami Sharkey | Web Development
Jac Currie & Defend New Orleans | Funder
The Greater New Orleans Foundation | Funder
Ogden Museum of Southern Art | Partner
All the project participants who shared their time, their words, and their support.
“I called Red Cross, they refuse to play / that bitch George Bush, he was on delay / FEMA played games, so I had to get mean / I want that second check for 23.”
How I became interested in the music scene is that I used to dance. I had a dance group called the Street Fighters, first and foremost. I stayed across the street from a DJ, DJ Calvin. I used to dance at all the block parties, different talent shows. I used to dance for various artists like 2 Sweet, different artists or whatever. I saw a colleague of mine, someone who used to dance with me, his name is Willie Puckett, he went from dancing to the rap scene.
It just got to a point where I got tired of being a background dancer. I always liked the rap side. I always wanted to do it. I never knew who to approach or who to go at for that. When I got the chance and opportunity, I met Big Kenny [Kenneth Taylor] who used to have Mobo Records. He gave me my first shot at it.
The first bounce artist that I heard was TT Tucker and DJ Irv. I heard DJ Jimi. I heard them around the same time, actually. TT Tucker was the first one that came out – the red tape? I had that red tape. Everybody had that red tape. You just played it over and over and over again.
Everybody wanted that sound. It was original. It was New Orleans. From that, people took on their own way of doing things, like Partners N Crime, Juvenile, and Magnolia Slim - before Soulja Slim, he was Magnolia Slim. All these people was doing the bounce rap, and they was good at it. That is when bounce really started evolving. Everybody, most of New Orleans artists that are big today, Juvenile, Soulja Slim, Mia X - most of, I'm not going to say all, but most of the New Orleans artists that’s big today did bounce somewhere in their career. Started out with it. It’s been around for a long time.
I had a chance to show the world and make the world listen to bounce on a national level. I was proud of that, that I did that. The work is far from being done. We still need to work. We still need to continue to make more bounce songs. More national bounce songs that will be highly respected by the whole world. Whether they like it or not, you got to respect it.
For more information, please visit their page.
Most Wanted Empire, Mobo, South Coast
5th Ward, Dumaine St./St. Phillip St.
1998 - present
Partners N Crime, B.G.,