“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.
“Look at what happened, ain’t no more scrappin’, here in ’94 brothers all about dappin’ / So I’m gonna put it down, way deep down in my soul / And let my good times roll.”
Mr. Meana: Cash Money called us and asked us to do [a show.]. They were like, “We’re going to bring UNLV out, we want you all to open up for them."
We opened up and UNLV came on after us. They had a song called, "Everybody's jockin' UNLV Style." He is just dissing us. Everything that we said it in "Ride It Roll It," was like a diss to it. That same night I go home, I make up [“Pussy N A Can.] We’re going to change the definition of their name. We’re just about to destroy these dudes’ whole career.
Kango Slim: We redid their song. I don't know if you remember their song that went, "The U is for Uptown, Uptown." Well, ours went, "The U is for Unknown, Unknown. The N is for Nothing, Nothing. The L is for Lowlife, Lowlifes and the V is for Virgins, fuckin’ Virgins."
Mr. Meana: We just changed the whole definition. Every concert we did with UNLV, that’s what mainly stirred the rivalry because when they do their song, people are singing our song. We come on right behind them and do the song. The crowd’s going crazy. That’s what started that whole rivalry for us with the Cash Money, UNLV, Partners N Crime beef. When Yella [Boy] died, we kind of ceased it.
Kango Slim: To be honest with you, the fight that we were fighting, it wasn't even a battle that they really wanted to fight. I felt like it was more the label. Because to be honest with you, we was a big UNLV fan. We used to bump their music. We used to like them just as well, and they bumped our music. We learned this after we became cool and friends.
Mr. Meana: We’re cool now. We were finding out that they liked our music just as much as we liked theirs.
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Big Boy, South Coast, Hitz International, Crime Labb Entertainment
Uptown/Hollygrove, New Orleans East
Early 90's - present
Prime Time (occasional 3d member); 5th Ward Weebie, DJ Jubilee, The Ghetto Twiinz, Leroy