“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.
Eldon Anderson: I came along with Jubilee in 1992. We been friends since, Lord knows how long. We were raised in the [St. Thomas] project. He went off to college and I went to high school, where one of my teachers was putting sort of the high school dances together. I used to get DJs for her and bring them in. When Jubilee finished with college, we actually brought him in to school doing dances. Earl and him came along one night with their producer, and Jubi had a room full of people doing all sorts of things. From there on, we make 18 years this year together.
Earl Mackie: We had a couple of national deals that just never happened. Bounce music is better seen than heard. When you have a hot bounce song in the South, it will blow up the airwaves and blow up the clubs and blow up everything in the Southern region. When you pass our little belt area and you go out to California, you go out to New York, the DJ is not going to give it a chance to play in the clubs. When they hear it in the private session they don't understand it. It has to be seen, not heard. When you have these national reps come down from New York and say, "I looked at the SoundScan and this guy is selling 50,000 units, what’s up with that?" and he comes to the concert and is amazed at how the people are reacting. Then they take this record back to the suits in New York, and they’re like, "I don’t like it." The powers that be didn't understand it at the time.
Henry “The Man” Holden: Earl and I hooked up in 1990 when we started [the TV show] Positive Black Talk. We were trying to raise money to fund the television show, and we decided to give a party one night, and we invited some local rappers and had a nice turnout. We made a lot of money that night, and we started to say, "Hey, we made a lot of money tonight. We can almost pay for the whole season, the whole year of the TV show." We decided we might look into this and see how it worked out. So we formed the first group, Da Sha Ra. It went from there. Pretty much the rest is history.
For more information, please visit their page.
Uptown, 10th Ward, St. Thomas Project
1993 - present
Label roster: Da Sha Ra, DJ Jubilee, 2 Sweet, Willie Puckett, Tec-9, Katey Red, Big Ramp, KC Redd, Lil Tee, Big Al, Junie B., and others