“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.
We always did record in my basement. Getting a deal wasn't even talked about so we had to start independent. Me and Dart [of 3-9 Posse], during that time I was working at the Superstore. He was working at Schwegmann's. He was like, "Fuck that, I'm about to quit." I was like, "Me too." We were like, "We should put our checks together." So his last check, my last check, we put them together. We put out our first CD and we were like, "Fuck it. We’re going to start our own label." [Parkway Pumpin’ Records.] We was fresh out of high school. We didn't even have vinyl. We couldn't afford vinyl with both of our checks even back then. We put our two checks together and put out our first cassette.
I had a Roland 808. I had a W30. I had that keyboard right there that I got from [Master] P. Some people up in California talked him into buying it cause, "he needed it," knowing fucking well right he didn’t do beats. When we went to Oakland the first time we went, me and [Mr. Serv-On], he brought me into the room and said, "Nah, use that keyboard there. I don't know what it is." I'm like, "He don't know, does this motherfucker really not know what he has sitting in his room right now?" I'm saying it to myself. I'm like, "I can use it.” He gave it to me. I took that same fucking keyboard on Southwest without a case and put it in the top where people put their luggage. I walked through the airport with that keyboard in my hands while Serv handled my bag. I'm going through the detector with that thing, and running it through, and got on the plane. Walking through the airplane with it, and good thing it was Southwest- their baggage thing is wide so it was big enough for the keyboard to fit in the top. They put blankets and shit on it. [To buy that keyboard then] you’re looking at $1000. $1000 for a piece of equipment now ain't worth shit, but you’re talking about in 1991 or 1992.
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Parkway Pumpin', No Limit
Uptown, Louisiana Parkway
1988 - current
J Ro'J, 3-9 Posse, Lil Elt & DJ Tee, in-house producer at No Limit Records as part of Beats By The Pound