Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library

Bounce: Rap Music and Local Identity in New Orleans

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 232
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Over the course of the twentieth century, African Americans in New Orleans helped define the genres of jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, and funk. In recent decades, younger generations of New Orleanians have created a rich and dynamic local rap scene, which has revolved around a danceoriented style called “bounce.” Hiphop has been the latest conduit for a “New Orleans sound” that lies at the heart of many of the city’s bestknown contributions to earlier popular music genres. Bounce, while globally connected and constantly evolving, reflects an enduring cultural continuity that reaches back and builds on the city’s rich musical and cultural traditions. In this book, the popular music scholar and filmmaker Matt Miller explores the ways in which participants in New Orleans’s hiphop scene have collectively established, contested, and revised a distinctive style of rap that exists at the intersection of deeply rooted vernacular music traditions and the modern, globalized economy of commercial popular music. Like other forms of grassroots expressive culture in the city, New Orleans rap is a site of intense aesthetic and economic competition that reflects the creativity and resilience of the city’s poor and workingclass African Americans.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-199-1
    Subjects: Music, Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    In late July 2005 I was in New Orleans, working on the documentary film projectYa Heard Me?I walked in the sweltering midday heat through the French Quarter to Odyssey Records on Canal Street, where I paid $9.98 for a self-produced CD by DJ Chicken (Kenneth Williams Jr.). The compilation featured popular songs by mainstream R&B and rap artists (along with a couple of oldies) “remixxed with Dat Beat.” As rapper Marvin “Dolemite” Skinner put it, “When people say that beat, they’re talking about bounce music. That’s what the new generation call it, that beat.”¹ “That beat” is the...

  6. 1 African American Life and Culture in New Orleans From Congo Square to Katrina and Beyond
    (pp. 17-43)

    As a European colony, New Orleans was always liminal and problematic. The city’s geographic position, connecting the vast North American interior to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, held out tantalizing possibilities with regard to the dominance of trade and territory, but its remoteness, semitropical climate, and the related difficulty of social control presented daunting challenges. Slavery and colonization had devastating results for Africans and Native Americans, but members of these groups also exploited the weaknesses of colonial powers and the fluidity of boundaries that was possible under French and Spanish rule, by rebelling and escaping, by attempting to...

  7. 2 “The City That Is Overlooked” Rap Beginnings, 1980–1991
    (pp. 44-74)

    The development of rap in New Orleans was strongly influenced by the genre’s wider national context, including an early focus in New York and the subsequent development (in the late 1980s and early ’90s) of a parallel scene in and around Los Angeles. Artists and companies from these two places (eventually labeled the “East Coast” and the “West Coast”) held a near-monopoly on the production of marketable rap music, setting the standards for the genre at a wider, national level. In New Orleans, the story begins with the foundational efforts of DJs and audiences in venues such as block parties...

  8. 3 “Where They At” Bounce, 1992–1994
    (pp. 75-108)

    In the years between 1992 and 1995, New Orleans’s rap scene was transformed by the sudden emergence and rise to widespread local popularity of a distinctive style of rap music, eventually labeled “bounce.” Driven by the collective efforts of “independent production networks and links between artists, studio producers, nightclubs, radio programmers, and an eager audience constituency,” bounce emerged and “took over” within a relatively short period of time.¹ The new style was oriented toward the musical preferences and narrative perspectives of residents of New Orleans’s housing projects and other poor neighborhoods, and it proved to be an enduring and profitable...

  9. 4 “Bout It” New Orleans Breaking Through, 1995–2000
    (pp. 109-140)

    Between 1992 and 1994 the rise of bounce transformed rap as both an art form and a business in New Orleans. The increasingly well-defined preferences of local audiences encouraged particular kinds of musical and lyrical content. While constrained in their ability to move beyond New Orleans and its hinterlands, the artists and companies that flourished during the early 1990s were able to exploit these idiosyncratic local tastes and, to an important extent, dominate the local market. This period of incubation and intense activity around locally oriented rap music set the stage for a transformation of a different kind that would...

  10. 5 “Lights Out” Stagnation, Decline, and the Resurgence of the Local, 2001–2005
    (pp. 141-159)

    Thanks to the lucrative partnerships between major music corporations and local independent record labels, the exposure of New Orleans–based artists and labels within the national rap music industry reached its zenith in the years from 1996 to 1999. The achievements of No Limit and Cash Money were the stuff of legend, fueling the aspirations of artists and entrepreneurs in New Orleans and elsewhere. Between 2000 and 2005, however, the city’s standing with national rap audiences and companies suffered a precipitous decline. Both No Limit and Cash Money retreated further from the grassroots New Orleans scene on which they had...

  11. 6 Bouncing Back After Katrina, Toward an Uncertain Future
    (pp. 160-176)

    Over the twenty-five years leading up to Hurricane Katrina, bleak socioeconomic conditions in New Orleans took their toll on participants in the local music scene, as rappers, producers, DJs, and record label owners were among those affected by violent crime and economic marginalization. Long before Katrina made landfall in September 2005, New Orleans was experiencing a slow-motion social disaster defined by hopelessness and unfulfilled potential, factors that multiplied the destructive power of the storm and its aftermath; as Kelefa Sanneh writes, “The story of Katrina is in large part a story of poverty and neglect.”¹ Still, it’s hard to imagine...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 177-194)
  13. New Orleans Rap: A Selected Discography
    (pp. 195-206)
  14. Index
    (pp. 207-214)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-217)