“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.
“But baby, mommy still live that thug life /
and mommy know where your killers live, so everything is all right.”
We try to keep it so real. Real to what is going on right now, not fiction. You know what I'm saying? We want to be like, "Oh man, them girls speak the truth." That’s why we try to keep it on that pad and be realistic with it.
When we spoke the hardness - no bad message or anything like that, but we only speak from experience. We only speak what we've been through, or people around us have been through. Or even what we turn on the TV and see everyday. We can't run from that, so why not speak about it?
[“Mama’s Hurtin”] comes from a friend. One of our friends, she lost a baby. We was like, "Wow, I can't imagine." We just took it and put it into our own feelings. You know what I'm saying? We just put ourself in her shoes. We were just only speaking from the heart. That is what "Mama’s Hurtin’" is about.
We saw somebody take their last breath and die right in our eyes. We were incarcerated for selling narcotics. Something we are not proud of but it’s something. It’s a life experience we can talk about. She did six months in jail. I had to sit two months in jail. It’s consequences. That's something we didn’t go back to after that. That's the thing, once you go there and you learn from that, you know what I'm saying? To go back, that is all on you. We never went back. We learned from that and kept it moving. Some of them never get it. Some of them are thinking it’s cool till death. They look at it as cool till death. It really is not. It’s really pathetic.
We had a chance to get out there and see what the real world is. We know what life is out there. We never was stuck in the 9th Ward and couldn’t move. Some people stuck there and don't know nothing else. We got a chance to go out there and experience a lot of things that we know now. And come back and teach the truth.
Note: The transcription features the voices of both Tonya Jupiter Edwards and Trementhia Jupiter. It can be hard to tell them apart.
For more information, please visit their page.
Rap-A-Lot, Big Boy
1994 - current