“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 never went by the name of Don Bartholomew. Everybody knew me as Don B., because I wanted to have my own identity. I didn't want nobody to give me some leeway, just because of who my dad was. I wanted to be my own person.
I was working at the Intercontinental Hotel. My dad would tell me, “I’ll buy all the equipment you want in the world, but you got to make it happen on your own." I got tired of waking up and going to wait on people and bussing tables at 5:30 in the morning. I used to see guys there, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but I used to see guys like 45 and 50 years old. They’d been doing this for like 25 years. I'm like, "What you mean, you been doing this for 25 years? Why? Why would you want to do this for 25 years?"
I started really having equipment like in 1992. I would say by 1993, I could get on and do any kind of beat. I did the first BG album and Lil Wayne album. The BG’z True Stories. I did that here. That’s the first thing I recorded with Cash Money. A lot of that “Cash Money Studios” [album credits] was this studio.
A lot of times when I first started producing stuff I would bring it to [Dave Bartholomew] and he’d be like, "Boy, there aren't no chords in that. What is that?" It wasn't him being mean. But for me, it was like breaking my heart. I was like, "What do I got to do to make my dad accept my music?" But now that I'm older, I understand he was just being straight up. I understand it now because I tell my son sometimes, "Boy, that’s the wrong key. You don't hear that?" I find myself doing what my dad used to do to me. I know with them it’s pressure. It was probably more pressure with me because with my dad I was like, "This man got all these hits and is in the Guinness Book of World Records and all this." With them, they know what I've done with this hip-hop community. They’re like, "It’s got to be right." Lil Don a lot, he challenges me doing beats. "Look at this beat. This beat is better than your beat."
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Hitts Studio, Bang'n Records
1993 - present
Mr. Ivan, Ms Tee, multiple artists as independent producer and engineer