“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.
“This is Fright Night – I think they scared of me.”
I played cymbals. I played tenor drum. I played mellophone, French horn, trumpet, a little bit of clarinet and a little bit of snare. I got into music really by being in the marching band.
Ice Mike is one of my mentors, that I seen him doing music and DJing and everything, and I took a liking to it. I went by his house and was like, "Man, I want to get into music. I want to do what you’re doing."
It looked like Disneyworld to me. He had everything. He had everything in there. I used to be like, "Wow, what this do? What that do?" He was like, "Man, you don't know how to work it, don't touch it." Every day I did that until one day he told me, "Me and Joe Blakk about to go do a concert. Watch my house for me and you can play with the equipment." I was like, "You serious?" "Yeah." When he came back I said, "Look Mike, I made a beat."
At the time I thought he was going to say, "Tre, that shit sounds hot." He didn't tell me that. He was like, "What you doing? That shit sounds like toys." I was like, "What you mean?" It was like, "It's all right to me." "No, you don't do that. Let me show you something." He went to adjust the volumes and the EQs on it and I was like, "Damn, that’s my beat?" He’s like, "That is your beat." I was like, "Damn. What you did?" He went to showing me shit. "You do this, you do that, you EQ this like that. You don't want to have this like that." I was like, "Why?" "Because if you turn it up too loud, it’s going to get distorted and it’s going to sound like toys."
I had my own little home studio that I went home and practiced on and was like, "All right, Mike said don't turn that loud." I turned it down and listened to it. Every day he kept me coming over there, he'll show me different shit every day. Every day I was like, "Damn," to where when I got a record deal five years later, he was like, "I knew you was going to get it. You’re ready now."
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No Limit, South Coast
West Bank, Christopher Homes
Early 90's - present
Ice Mike (producer), Mia X, KLC (producer), Master P, Tim Smooth, Joe Blakk, Fila Phil and others