Bounce is a rap movement originated in New Orleans in the 1980s that uncharacteristically boasts an array of female, gay and transgendered performers. While the lyrics focus on the usual topics including sex, parties, and dancing, bounce music is "steeped in deep Southern roots traditions" and influenced by "Mardi Gras Indian chants, brass band beats, and call-and-response routines" (from show's notes). Where They At: a multi-media archive of New Orleans Bounce at the Henry Street Settlement's Abrons Arts Center in the Lower East Side features photos, oral histories, and video collected by Aubrey Edwards and Alison Fensterstock focusing on the pioneering women, gay and transgendered rappers "in early New Orleans hip-hop and bounce."
The title of the exhibit, Where They At, is taken from the title of a 1992 song recognized as "the first bounce release" by DJ Jimi Payton (the song was also recorded earlier as a "homemade cassette-only release" by T.T. Tucker). Where They At the exhibition features large, color portraits of female bounce rappers Mia X, Ms Tee, Magnolia Shorty, and Cheeky Blakk and gay members Big Freedia, Chev off the Ave, and Vockah Redu. A lyric sample and brief quote about how each artist got involved in the bounce movement is printed beside his/her portrait. As the show's notes state, "[T]he prominence of queer members of the bounce community... defies the myth of insurmountable homophobia within hip-hop and speaks to a curious tradition in African-American entertainment in New Orleans, which has accepted and celebrated queer and cross-dressing entertainers for over half a century — from Bobby Marchan to Katey Red."
Where They At is a great introduction to a less familiar style of rap along with its cast of fabulous and colorful players. Learn more at Abronsartscenter.org. Through April 3rd.