Bounce

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Bounce is an intensely local and popular form of indigenous street music in New Orleans that has had an indelible influence on hip-hop, brass band, and other cultural and artistic forms since its sound first coalesced in the early 1990s. Growing out of the local New Orleans rap scene of the late 1980s and influenced by the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, among others, the subgenre called “bounce” is percussive, highly rhythmic and purposely repetitive, with a central focus on dance. With strong African diasporic retentions, bounce features extensive use of call and response, “roll calls” of New Orleans wards and neighborhoods, simple melodic lines, and signature sounds sampled from other recordings. Bounce has also come to be known by a number of community monikers, including “project music” or sometimes, simply, “that/dat beat.” As an intensely local and participatory musical form, bounce is, in many ways, the sound of the streets in New Orleans.

In 1991, an artist named MC T. Tucker gained a local following with a song called “Where Dey At,” performed over a backing track by DJ Irv that sampled the 1986 single, “Drag Rap,” by a New York group called The Showboys. Performing in New Orleans clubs like Uptown Hollygrove’s Ghost Town, the popularity of T. Tucker and DJ Irv’s track, recorded and released on cassette, inspired another local artist, DJ Jimi, to record his own version, which he named “Where They At.” The original Showboys sample featured the iconic riff from the popular television series, Dragnet — “dum dahdumdum…dum dahdumdum DAH” — as well as a high-pitched ostinato arpeggio instrumental pattern which came to be known as the “Triggerman” beat. It was also known as “Triggaman bells” or simply the “Triggaman,” in all cases, named after Showboys’ member Phillip “Triggerman” Price. Although The Showboys’ record had little impact nationally, its popularity grew in Southern cities like Memphis and New Orleans, giving the song new life. DJ Jimi’s full-length album followed the release of his version of “Where They At” and it was produced by Leroy “Precise” Edwards (who would soon become well-known for his production if Mystikal and others). By 1992, bounce had become a full-blown movement.

Many of the conventions of bounce music, especially in its early forms, came from outside of New Orleans. As has been extensively detailed in Matt Miller’s Bounce: Rap Music and Local Identity in New Orleans (2012), foundational elements of the genre included the “Triggaman bells,” the Triggaman 808 drum-machine beats from “Drag Rap,” the “Brown Beats” instrumental from California DJ Cameron Paul, the “Rock the Beat” instrumental from British DJ and rapper Derek B, and the “Cheeky Blakk beat.” The latter is a variation on “Brown Beats” created for New Orleans rapper Cheeky Blakk in the mid-‘90s by legendary producer Mannie Fresh, and in addition, Blakk’s work contains one of the first mentions of “twerking” on record.

Some other defining characteristics of New Orleans bounce were locally derived. There is the ease with which elements of other local traditional musics were used in bounce performance, as in the case of brass band or marching band tracks sampled or played live on bounce songs. Examples include the following: the use of the Rebirth Brass Band’s “I Feel Like Funkin’ It Up” on Da Sha Ra’s “I Feel Like Bootin’ Up” (1993); the use of Smokey Johnson’s “It Ain’t My Fault” on J Ro’ J’s “Let’s Jump”; the sousaphone-driven bass line on Gregory D and Mannie Fresh’s proto-bounce song “Buck Jump Time” (1987); or the John McDonough High School marching band’s appearance on Ricky B’s “Y’All Holla” (1995). Mardi…

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