“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.
He was a trendsetter in this city. Some of the things he did musically and how he gave a lot of guys chances when they wasn't getting no chances. Especially cats like Mystikal. Before he hit it big Warren was the first one who gave him a show at the Treme Center. He was giving a lot of concerts back then. Warren was bringing those guys like Run DMC, Doug E. Fresh, LL Cool J, all of them, he was bringing them into the community when people didn't know they could get them in the community. Warren was bringing them in here to little places. It was like, "Man, how are you getting those guys in here?"
We had a couple little teen clubs and stuff like that. Always was around rappers. Always was around people that were doing music. He decided to go ahead and he pumped the "Get It Girl." It took. I mean, when it took, it took fast. Warren had dancers. All of them wore this ponytail that looked like curls. It was like a fad. Everybody wanted a "Get It Girl". "What kind of style you want?" "I just want the "Get It Girl" ponytail.” That’s how it happened. And the girls dancing wore the shorts. They had the "Get It Girl" shorts then. Short shorts, like a little dancer's short up to a certain length.
Warren was into 501 jeans and All Star shoes. That’s all Warren wore. That was it. Him and about 50 or 60 people be with him everyday. He kept a big entourage. Everybody had the same thing on everywhere you go. That’s how you knew his crew. When it was time to dress sharp, he would dress sharp. He was that kind of dresser. He wore a lot of jewelry back then. He really was a flashy type guy. Real flashy. He had all kind of sharp cars. He had a lot of tricked out cars. Cars he always wanted to do a certain way. If your door is going straight, he going to make sure his door flop up like a bird.
[The funeral] was downtown in the Treme area. The Catholic church right there, St. Augustine’s Church. It was a sight to see. It was huge. People were flying in from everywhere. Warren had a celebrity funeral. They brought him out nice. I bought his clothes. I bought him a Fubu shirt, a pair of jeans, and I bought him a baseball cap and that’s what he wore. And we plaited his hair. He wore long ponytails, so we plaited his hair in two plaits and laid him out.
Note: Lyons’ brother Warren Mayes, club owner, promoter and rapper, passed away in 1999.
Hype Enough, Party Time, Hard Core
Downtown, Iberville Project
Mid-80's - present
Worked with Warren Mayes (brother), Soulja Slim, KLC and others