“NOLA Hiphop Archive” by Alison Fensterstock and Holly Hobbs

by Jessica Dilday on December 8, 2014

Compiled by Times-Picayune music writer Alison Fensterstock and Tulane University PhD Candidate Holly Hobbs, this mixtape was inspired by the launch of the NOLA Hiphop and Bounce Archive in December 2014, the first university-affiliated Southern rap archive in the Deep South. The archive includes over 50 audio interviews and photographs from Alison Fensterstock and Aubrey Edwards’s Where They At project, which was featured in exhibition form at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in 2010, and over 40 videotaped oral histories with New Orleans rap and bounce pioneers conducted by archive director Holly Hobbs. Housed by the Amistad Research Center, the nation’s oldest and largest independent archive focusing on the histories of African Americans and ethnic minorities, the NOLA Hiphop and Bounce archive can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection free of charge, beginning in December 2014.

For more than three decades now, hiphop and bounce music traditions in New Orleans have been central outlets for creativity, celebration, social critique, community gathering, and political and expressive art in the city. From the groundbreaking, internationally recognized Cash Money and No Limit record labels to the strong currents of underground hiphop and street rap that sustain the tradition, New Orleans has been a recognized hiphop locale since the 1990s. Meanwhile, the indigenous New Orleans bounce music tradition, born at block parties, dance clubs, and other community gatherings, had until very recently been little heard outside the city. Since Hurricane Katrina, bounce has become a force of its own, gaining massive popularity and influence internationally via artists like Big Freedia, Katey Red and Nicky da B (1990-2014), though its roots go back well over two decades.

Perhaps more audibly so than rappers anywhere else in America, New Orleans artists have pulled from the musical traditions of the city’s past. Far from rejecting the musical and cultural traditions of earlier generations, early New Orleans rappers in particular often incorporated elements of them––including brass-band street-parade instrumentations/rhythms and Mardi Gras Indian chants and melodies––into the hip-hop collage. Today, rap music is Louisiana’s most lucrative cultural export. But in the most widespread images of “New Orleans music,” the city’s incredibly influential and successful rappers, producers and DJs that helped to build the tradition remain largely invisible. This, coupled with the realities of Hurricane Katrina, in which countless members of the city’s creative communities lost their lives or were displaced, many of whom remain unable to return, inspired a determination in many to help provide resources/further acknowledgment for artists and to document/collect hiphop and bounce oral histories and ephemera. The NOLA Hiphop and Bounce Archive hopes to be one of many initiatives assisting in such efforts.

This mixtape is intended to span the last thirty years of hiphop and bounce in New Orleans, from the early lyricism of artists like Tim Smooth and Devious D through the development of bounce, New Orleans’ unique, singsong party rap, in the early 1990’s. It includes examples of songs like Gergory D and Mannie Fresh’s travelogue “Buck Jump Time,” which makes its way through a litany of New Orleans landmarks over street-parade sousaphone, and the late Nicky Da B’s Diplo-produced “Express Yourself,” which hinted at a new, hybrid and nationally-influenced sound for the once deeply regional style.


Fensterstock, Alison, 10th Ward Buck and Lucky Johnson. 2010. The Definition of Bounce: Between Ups and Downs in New Orleans. Garrett County Press.

Miller, Matt. 2012. Bounce: Rap Music and Local Identity in New Orleans. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Sakakeeny, Matt. 2013. Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans. Duke University Press.


1. I Gotsta Have It, Tim Smooth
2. Street Life, Baby T & Devious D
3. Buck Jump Time, Gregory D & Mannie Fresh
4. Let’s Go Get Em, Ricky B live with the Mac Band (traditional Mardi Gras Indian chant repurposed, with high-school marching band)
5. Wha Dey At, MC T Tucker & DJ Irv (considered the first recorded bounce song)
6. Where They At, DJ Jimi (prod. Mellow Fellow, Devious D)
7. Da Payback, Mia X (an answer song to super-sexualized, male-perspective bounce that lyrically addresses both “Wha Dey At/Where They At and Pimp Daddy’s early-’90s “Got To Be Real,” for Cash Money Records)
8. Let Me Find Out Pt. 1, 5th Ward Weebie
9. Y’all Ain’t Ready Yet, Mystikal (prod. Leroy “Precise” Edwards)
10. I Won’t Be Denied, Fiend (prod. Ice Mike)
11. Blue and Green, Nesby Phips
12. Express Yourself, Nicky da B (prod. Diplo)

Alison Fensterstock is a staff writer at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has
written about Louisiana music for Oxford American, MOJO, Spin, and many others. Her multimedia exhibit and oral history collection on New Orleans hip-hop and bounce, Where They At, was featured at the Smithsonian-affiliated Ogden Museum of Southern Art in 2010 as well as venues in Austin, New York, Minneapolis and Berlin. Fensterstock also served as the program director for the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation, a roots music festival and educational organization in New Orleans.
Affiliation: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Holly Hobbs is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at Tulane and the founder/director of the NOLA Hip-hop Archive, a digital archive of hip-hop oral histories housed at New Orleans’ Amistad Research Center. Hobbs has researched and written on grassroots music traditions in the American South, the west of Ireland, and East Africa. She currently writes for KnowLA: the online encyclopedia of Louisiana Music and Culture, Music Rising, UNESCO’s Collection of Traditional Music via Smithsonian Folkways, and the urban music and culture website, The Smoking Section[A1] .
Affiliation: Tulane University
hhobbs@tulane.edu / nolahiphoparchive@gmail.com

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