“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.
My first time in the studio was actually Gregory D. He had a deal with D&D Records. What I was hired for was to scratch on the record. When I got to the studio, the beat was just horrible. I was kind of like, "Dude, if I could help you out, you won't take offense to it?" He was like, "Nah, man." So I wound up programming another beat. He was like, "You know how to program drums as well?" He was like, "Man, would you like to be my DJ?" I was like, "Yeah, come on. Let's go for it."
I thought [“Buck Jump Time”] was genius. He kind of felt like, "I want to represent New Orleans, but I don't know if I should do it yet because New Orleans is a small place." Hip-hop was just taking off, and it was like, "I don't know if they’re going to respect the song like this.” I was just like, "It doesn't matter. It’ll still be a New Orleans classic forever. If nobody else gets it, New Orleans is going to get it." I'm like, even then I was like, "Dude, this is going to be your legacy for forever. This song right here? It’s going to be a classic. It’s going to be able to play for forever in New Orleans."
We only had a crummy drum machine with probably, I don't know, like two seconds of sample time, and we still pulled it off. If you played that song when it first came out, it was just phenomenal. That song was like the number one single in New Orleans for five years running or something. Even right now when people say, "What’s one of your biggest accomplishments as far as New Orleans?" I'm like, "Buck Jump Time." That song right there, that’s a classic.
You got to look at it too, to a certain degree, bounce got to kind of pay homage to Gregory D because he was the first dude to represent neighborhoods and be bold enough to say it. Even to me, bounce is really the essence of hip-hop. Bounce is the beginning of hip-hop. It was a DJ with some great records, it was an MC that’s pretty much coming with some chants. You got to rock the crowd and that’s all you got to do.
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Cash Money Records
Early 80\'s - current
Juvenile, Hot Boys, Bryan