Culture + Style

Underground Sound: Making It Bounce in the Big Easy

Big Freedia Queen of Bounce premiere at the Republic (Photo: Joshua Brasted)

Great music is — and always will be — synonymous with New Orleans culture. The birthplace of jazz, visitors flock to the Crescent City year after year to experience its rich musical legacies, from Dixieland and zydeco to the booming sounds of brass bands.

Bounce music is another subgenre that has become synonymous with the Big Easy. If each subsection of music had a motto, then “slow and steady wins the race” would undoubtedly be the one to describe Bounce. While it is new to some, locals have been shaking and sweating to it for over 20 years. The earliest Bounce song can be traced back to a local duo, MC T.T. Tucker and DJ Irv. Christened the “Fathers of Bounce,” the two changed the course of New Orleans music with their 1991 local hit, “Where They At.”

Characterized by a call and response delivery and the use of several fast-paced sampled tracks known as the “Triggerman beat” (also called “dat beat”), Bounce soon cemented itself on the local scene, becoming the sound of choice for Generation X’ers at every place ranging from school dances to bar rooms.

Partners-N-Crime at The Embassy (Photo: Joshua Brasted)
Partners-N-Crime at The Embassy (Photo: Joshua Brasted)

Since then, Bounce has grown by leaps and bounds, transitioning from a largely regional subgenre to one that has spread as far as Australia. Though little has changed around the basic foundation of the music itself, in recent years, popular music has also gotten the Bounce treatment. In recent years, artists like Beyonce, Katy Perry, Adele and even Lady Antebellum have gotten the Bounce treatment, with remixes of their songs sending aficionados straight to the dance floor in the process.

On the worldwide scale, Big Freedia has undoubtedly become the face of Bounce music, thanks to his larger than life personality and his Fuse Network reality show, “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce.” Through Freedia’s television show, other local artists have been catapulted to the forefront of the current Bounce movement, including Katey Red, Sissy Nobby and Mr. Ghetto. Even artists outside of New Orleans are getting in on the action, with producer Diplo collaborating with the late local rapper Nicky Da B. Not bad for this a sound that got its humble start on local radio, right?

Katey Red at Crescent City Boxing Gym (Photo: Joshua Brasted)
Katey Red at Crescent City Boxing Gym (Photo: Joshua Brasted)

The longevity and increasing popularity of the music can be attributed to the energeticdances and frenetic energy that has largely defined the Bounce movement. According to Took and Mr604, the forces behind NolaBounce.com, the city’s premiere website for any and all things Bounce, the popularity can be attributed to the music’s energy.

“The passionate energy motivates people to not only observe but become a participant in the celebration and exercise their freedom of expression,” they explained. “Bounce is confirmation that music truly does transcend all boundaries and brings people from all backgrounds together.”

For visitors that are looking to delve into the local Bounce music scene, there are numerous ways for music lovers twerk something, as we locals say. Popping into large scale events (such as the Garden District’s Republic New Orleans or the French Quarter’s House of Blues) and smaller venues (The Marigny’s Siberia Lounge), allow for the chance to discover popular local artists such as Fly Boy Keno and 10th Ward Buck or even local legends like DJ Jubilee.

Those looking to burn off some calories from New Orleans’ rich cuisine can check out a drop-in Bounce Fitness class held at the Dancing Grounds community center in the historic Bywater neighborhood.

When it comes to exploring the world of Bounce, there’s something for everyone. All you need to do is show up with an open mind — and willingness to break a sweat.