“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.
“Put your right leg in, put your right leg out /
catch the wall and show them girls how to wobble out.”
I used to be in the club, "Do the Josephine, do the Josephine, do the Johnny, whoa." Like one hand in the air and then shaking my leg. But the story was, you know how you sit down for a long time and you get up and your leg go to sleep? I was trying to shake my leg to get the numbness out and as I'm shaking my leg my momma opened the door and hit my elbow when she opened the door. I went to telling her about it as a joke, and I started doing it, and I came up with the dance like that. That’s how it started.
When I saw major dudes with money doing my dance in a club, it made me know something, that this dance is serious. No real brother is going to do that pop or shake their butt. They ain't going to do that. So when the Johnny came out, it was a cool, laid-back dance. Everybody was doing it. Dudes was doing it. They don't dance, so they ain't going to shake their ass, but they'll do the Johnny. It took off crazy. It took off real crazy. I wasn't expecting it to take off the way it took off.
Joe Horn was the first one to do it in the field for the Saints. Then Reggie Bush done it. Who else? Reggie Wayne. Southern and Grambling done it for the Bayou Classic, the whole band, at half-time the band come out and they played the song, "Josephine Johnny, Josephine Johnny." The whole Southern band on the football field doing the dance. The whole band. It was just crazy, real crazy. Then Ludacris mentioned my name in "Why Don’t We Fall in Love," by Amerie. "Spiced up her life, I made her Josephine Johnny. She got pretty feet, big lips, a mean body. I spiced up her life, I made her Josephine Johnny." I was like, "Wow!" For Luda to know about that. My twin brother told me, "Man, this R&B singer Amerie and Ludacris said your name." I was like, "You lying, man."
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Uptown, Josephine St.
Late 90's - present