“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 run the game and I’m proud to announce /
PMW’s in the house with more bounce to the ounce.”
What happened was Bobby Marchan was a concert promoter back then, before he passed. He was doing a talent show at Flirts across the river. We performed at the talent show. We actually won a talent show. We had just released a tape like two days before the talent show. Bobby Marchan was like, "Man, you all need to come down to my office and let's get some concerts going and get you all booked up." Got with them and then our product was running low. We didn't have a lot of money to put the product out. We were recording the product and putting it on cassette tapes and making our own labels at the same time and putting them out on the street. At that particular time, Bryan and Ronald [Williams] happened to be in the office. They heard about the song. They said, "Man, that is y'all’s?" I said, "Yeah." "We need to get you all on our label. Sign you. Put like 10,000 copies out here right now." So that’s how we got with Cash Money. We started from right there in that office with Cash Money and just started selling everything from there. They took care of everything for us.
Everybody took that song and was like, "Oh man, you made the drug dealer's anthem with that song." "Really?" I didn't really think it would be the drug dealer's anthem, but the song came out real popular.
Before we heard Dr. Dre and everything, we was the first ones with a weed song that hit big back home in New Orleans. I'm quite sure Dre had come out before - it got to us a little bit later. From there everybody just went off on writing about the weed and everything else. Lady Red and everybody else had they version of the song.
People think we smoke tons of weed. It wasn't like we smoked tons of weed. Every now and then. We just had to make a song about it because that was a hot thing.
Downtown, Iberville Project
1993 - present
Lil Slim, UNLV