Another guest post from ya boy Gabe of the SD ZOO
I guess I should start this by noting that I get geeked over American regional club and rap music, (honestly, Europe ain’t got shit on us in this realm.) With the advent of continually cheaper ways to create and record music since the invention of the synthesizer and home studio equipment, regional music has developed qualities that are immediate, visceral and as varied as the regions from which they emerge.
Yet, one common thread unites all regions when it comes to dance music (both the good and the bad) is that nobody wants to dance feeling sad. This shit is for the house party/street jam/bar/whip-on-the-way-to-the-club/blastin’ out the speakers at the club, and I’m not in here to expand my mind—I’m tryin’ to get faded and holler at a breezy… you get the point. Dance music in particular has the ability to be both homogenous-in-a-bad-way across regions, yet successful in its own area. Therein lies the source of my fascination with regional dance music—the subtleties that make it entirely unique. I believe that dance music made specifically for the club environment operates within very narrow confines, (see: house, trance, etc.) and therefore, the ability to infuse a strong sense of regional identity through unique traits is what sets good dance music apart from the run-of-the-mill.
New Orleans, Louisiana is an industrial port town at the banks of the Mississippi River, (as if you didn’t know.). Like many port cities, New Orleans benefits from a constant influx of cultural influences. From Mardi Gras, jazz and blues to voodoo, New Orleans can make the goings on in Las Vegas look as innocent as a kindergarten playground. Gratifying, unique, troubled, unstable, transient, sexual, insecure: these are all descriptions of New Orleans as a city. These adjectives could easily be applied to Bounce music—the dance music of New Orleans.
In 1986, a seemingly ordinary 12” single by a group claiming Queens, New York as their home dropped on Profile Records. Drag Rap was the Showboys’ second single, and outside of being featured on a Mr. Magic Rap Attack compilation, didn’t achieve much notoriety.
Showboys – Drag Rap 1986
Of course, that statement does not apply if you’ve ever spent any time in New Orleans hearing Bounce. Drag Rap (and to a lesser extent, Rock the Beat by Derek B) is literally the basis of an entire genre of rap music. Known locally in New Orleans as the “Triggerman” beat, Drag Rap’s wavering, Casio-induced melody, drum loops and vocoder-laden reprise are the basis for nearly every bounce track. I have yet to hear another regional dance music that shares this trait—one song acting as the primary basis for an entire genre.
During the late 1980’s and through the mid 1990’s artists such as DJ Jimi, UNLV, Mannie Fresh, DJ Jubilee and Juvenile (yes, Back That Azz Up Juvenile,) dominated the scene with songs based on Triggerman. Although all of the songs all shared a common origin, they were unique in their call-and-response chants, production and rhyme styling. The lyrics rarely made it out of the female-objectification arena, but it’s nothing worse than what was heard from Miami Bass artists of the same era, Chicago House music from the 1990’s, or today’s Baltimore dance tracks.
Juvenile feat. DJ Jimi – Where They At? (Remix) 1992 (VERY NSFW!!!)
Bounce music became the bridge that enabled the city’s rappers to be heard outside of New Orleans. The list of New Orleans rappers that produced bounce tracks reads like today’s “who’s who” of southern club rap production: the aforementioned Mannie Fresh and Juvenile, B.G., B-32 (later known as Baby/Birdman), Lil’ Wayne and the Hot Boyz, Master P., Soulja Slim, and Mystikal were among the literally hundreds of artists producing tracks based upon a single song. Bounce music provided the catalyst for these artists to elevate themselves to larger careers and for the establishment of successful record labels that made their presence on a national scale, (notably Cash Money and No Limit)
However, the role that Bounce played was not static in its ability to catalyze careers, but its unique aesthetic also inspired artists throughout the southern United States for years to come. Recently, Beyoncé featured a very bounce-influenced song on her album Birthday, OutKast repeatedly evoke a bounce-like “Break!” chant to conclude every song on Stankonia and one of David Banner’s most successful singles, Like a Pimp is based on a screwed version of the Triggerman beat.
Today, Bounce music does not share the same ubiquity in New Orleans as it once did, but by no means is the movement dead. Artist like Gotti Boi Chris have stepped in where their predecessors left off, and their sound has evolved into a more complex, faster and strikingly more energetic version than the founders’ had envisioned. Although I would assert that Bounce music’s period of relevance has mostly passed, interest in the genre will continue as long as the newer artists keep cranking out the tracks.
Gotti Boi Chris-Cut it Up
(note: play this LOUD and if your girlfriend doesn’t dance to this, you should probably break up with her, it’s one of the most amped-up tracks I’ve ever heard. The air raid sirens at 1:35… holy crap.)