When New Orleans is mentioned in the music ecosphere, jazz is the first word that often comes to mind. Second-line music may be a close second. But as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the impact of the New Orleans-based bounce music on the genre cannot be ignored.
Bounce — a subgenre of Southern hip-hop — originates from New Orleans and has had a big influence on hip-hop music and culture. A number of New Orleans hip-hop artists, including Lil Wayne and Juvenile, came out of the bounce music scene and became major hip-hop artists who influenced an entire generation and made an impact on American culture.
Bounce music has become synonymous with the city of New Orleans. Tulane University even has a bounce and hip-hop music archive that catalogs pictures, interviews and other forms of media related to the genre. Bounce artists such as Big Freedia, DJ Jubilee, and Magnolia Shorty have molded the genre of bounce into the fast-paced, rhythmic, call-and-response style that we see it as today.
According to an article published on the history of bounce music by WWOZ, a New Orleans-based community radio station, bounce music emerged in the 1990s. It started in a small, popular, now-defunct club, Ghost Town, that sat in the Hollygrove neighborhood. The article said TT Tucker and DJ Irv Phillips performed a new style of music at the club with turntables and laid the groundwork for bounce. In 1991, Tucker and DJ Irv recorded and released the song “Wha Dey At”, which is considered one of, if not the first, bounce songs.
Another early bounce artist was DJ Jubilee. He started DJ’ing in the 1980s at local events and schools, where he was discovered by Take Fo’ Records. Jubilee is rumored to have been the first one to use the word “twerk” in a song. That song, “Do the Jubilee All,” amassed immediate popularity when it was released in 1993. Beyonce’s 2019 hit, “Before I Let Go” sampled “Do the Jubilee All,” and peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts.
“Bounce music means everything to me and New Orleans,” Jubilee said. “This is how we identified ourselves in New Orleans — through our music, the wards, the hoods and the name of our schools.”
Popular rapper Juvenile along with Mannie Fresh and Lil Wayne released “Back That Thang Up” in 1999, a smash bounce hit that reached No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 5 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Juvenile started out performing bounce music locally as a teenager before being discovered by Cash Money Records. He would later go on to score a No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2004, with his hit, “Slow Motion.”
Cash Money Records, founded in 1991 by brothers Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Robert “Slim” Williams, got its start in bounce music as well. The record company is known for signing popular rappers Drake and Nicki Minaj. It facilitated the production of the legendary rap artists’ first full-length studio albums in collaboration with the Lil Wayne-led Young Money Entertainment.
Though bounce music originated in New Orleans like jazz, bounce music fans have argued that it often gets overlooked and doesn’t get the praise it deserves compared to jazz.
But artists that came out of the bounce music scene have had a major impact and influence on hip-hop music and American culture. Bounce helped launch the careers of many local hip-hop artists. For many bounce fans, the music epitomizes what New Orleans is — fun, carefree and energetic.
That’s the message of one of today’s leading bounce artists, HaSizzle. He tours across the South with a goal of spreading happiness through music. His song, “Getcha Sum” is a New Orleans favorite and is often played at many local events.
“It wouldn’t be NOLA without bounce,” HaSizzle said. “Bounce brings excitement and joy to the community. Bounce doesn’t glorify violence and drugs and guns. It’s all about joy and feeling the joy.”
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