“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.
Goldie: We came out actually in 1998. The beginning of 1998. It was supposed to be a gospel poetry show. I couldn’t find any guests. All I knew was [hip-hop] artists. This is who I hung out with. I told them, I said, "Look, I got a show and it needs some guests." "Girl, how you got a TV show in the project? You got to be rich in New York."
When it came to guests, I had to go to my friends. My friends thought I was crazy because my brother had just got killed, and I was doing some stupid stuff. That was the truth. They were like, "Is she trippin’'?" Nobody would come.
We did not mix Uptown, downtown, 9th Ward. Well, all my guests was from the 9th Ward, because Loren [Phillips] introduced me to a lot of people. She knew a lot of artists because she interviewed a lot of artists for the magazine. She was like, "I know such and such," and they just so happened to be artists from out of the 9th Ward. By the time the show came on and everybody figured out it was the truth, then Uptown came and supported me to the bitter end. I was able to have Uptown and downtown, which enabled me to squash many, many beefs. Once we got into that studio it was all us. A lot of the hosts from Uptown would have to interview somebody from downtown and in the 9th Ward. It did help in a lot of ways. I'm glad it did.
John: Our show was getting bigger and bigger and bigger amongst locals. [Other shows] were stuck on the corporate, the norm. Trying to be a 106th and Park type show, or a Rap City type show. We were just straight gutter streets. We had people bouncing, shaking their ass all over the TV. It was kind of a culture shock for Access television. We got so many people writing letters on us. So many meetings we were in, "Now, you can't have Ashley shaking her butt on TV."
We were in the streets. We were going to the block parties and the projects. We were going to the clubs in the hood on the corner, interviewing real people. Real artists from New Orleans.
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9th Ward (John), Calliope Project (Goldie)
1997 - present