“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.
“Here we come / Red Rum.”
I actually was going to try to go sign with Full Pack, and Pimp Daddy was the one that gave me the Cash Money card. He told me to call and I did. I wound up being a featured artist, writing a bunch of stuff for Ms Tee. But when it was my time, I just felt like they was sleeping on me so I had to leave. I was writing all these hits for Ms Tee and this and that and you know, and I ain't even in the studio yet. I'm just doing featured appearances. So I had to go do me.
The parties was wild. Cash Money used to throw parties like every week at this club called Whispers in the East. They’d buy the bar. Drink up till you throw up till the sun come up, basically. It was good to be affiliated and know them then, for real. They partied all the way, 100%. Whispers was an elegant club, but it was hood. It wasn't how it is now. Like then, we used to party and have fun. They party and go shoot up one another now.
It’s just like bounce music is our way of expressing ourselves through all the hardship, and this and that. The streets can take you under if you let it. Bounce music saved that. When you listen to bounce music you ain't worried about anything else that’s in existence in the world, just you got to move. It’s real good positive energy. Some people harmonize it. Some people like to just repeat the same thing over and over. It all comes from "Brown Beats" and "Triggerman." Down here in New Orleans, we can do wonders with "Brown Beats" and "Triggerman." I don't think anyone else could adapt "Brown Beats" and "Triggerman" like we do down here with that bounce music. It’s that beat. That is what they call it, “that beat.” When people say that beat, they’re talking about bounce music. That is what the new generation call it, that beat.
We’re a major city and we’re known for music. You got to know it’s more than jazz down here. I'm a jazz musician too, so it kind of works cool for me. When the rap ain't working I go beat the drum, in the Hot 8 Brass Band.
Red Rum, Cash Money, Untouchable
Uptown, 3d Ward, 10th Ward
1995 - present
Ms Tee, Red Rum roster