The genre of Hip-Hop/Rap dates back to the mid-1970s. Others claim that the genre goes back to early gospel music and rock. Hip-hop has not only become an American Staple but a cultural phenomenon as well.
Names like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5, 2Pac, The Notorious BIG, 50 Cent, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar have etched their names into hip-hop and music lore. However, this is just part of the story. Here’s Why the city of New Orleans is bouncing towards alternative rap.
Before New Orleans could “bounce alternatively, Hip-Hop began to expand across the nation in 1979 with the “Rapper’s Delight” released by the Sugar Hill Gang. Contrary to popular belief, however, this move was controversial in the then-fledgling hip-hop community. Elizabeth Blair of NPR Music stated in her 2000 article that “Rapper’s Delight” did not mirror the angry urban culture that gave rise to hip-hop.
“Rapper’s Delight is built on the rhythm of an earlier cultural phenomenon: Disco,” she wrote. “Rapper’s Delight created its share of controversy, starting with the fact that it’s a playful groove.” Racial tensions from the past carried over into the 70s. Local New York DJs Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc, and unsung hero the late Kool DJ AJ took notice of that anger and made something beautiful out of it.
Don’t Push Me, Cause I’m Close To The Edge!
In the 1980s, Hip-Hop began to expand at a slow pace. The song spearheading the charge would prove to be the iconic track by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5’s “The Message.
After years of being in the Sugar Hill Gang’s shadow, the song gained acclaim because it described inner-city life that people often ignored at the time. This would be the catalyst that lit the fuse and caused hip-hop to explode in the years following Rapper’s Delight. While this song is one of the most important ever recorded, it is not directly responsible for how southern rap started.
However, it does serve as an influence on the genre as a whole. So, one can argue that this Furious five single served as an angry alternative to Rapper’s Delight. Two teenagers from Queens, New York, would build on this foundation and accidentally start a trend that continues today.
The year was 1986, and hip-hop, by this point, had become a household name in the Northeast region. While it was gaining some traction nationwide, 80s rock dominated the radio airwaves. Two New York teenagers took notice and would inadvertently alter the course of hip-hop forever.
A record centered around two warring crime bosses found its way to the late Jam Master Jay. Queens, NY, is the home of two teenage rappers, Orville Hall, and Phillip Price. The two portray warring crime bosses who are fighting a bloody turf battle. “We were listening to other records, seeing the vibe at the time,” Hall, AKA Can Can told Red Bull Music Academy. “We were thinking, what the f*ck could we find to do a story about?” After writing the track and completing the recording in 20 minutes, “Drag Rap,” AKA “Triggerman,” was born.
“It rocked New York, I think maybe, for a month? Two Months,” Hall stated. “We thought we were on our way, and then suddenly, the record disappeared.”
Unbeknownst to the duo, the record was on the move. “Drag Rap” would reach the Southern States of the Union. It hit cities like Atlanta, Memphis, Jackson, and, most notably, New Orleans.
For a little more about hip-hop/R&B, click here.
New Orleans is Bouncing!
Although bounce started in Queens, Big Easy did the most experimenting with the sound. “Drag Rap” has been regarded for its unique production. New Orleans MC/DJ duo TT Tucker and DJ Irv would be very attentive to the instrumental B-side of the record. Using a heavy sample, the twosome would create the first bounce song recorded, “Where Dey At?” To promote the track, Tucker and Irv would sell cassettes at local parties and clubs throughout 1991.
The next year, however, DJ Jimi would use the same track and released his more well-polished version of the song, effectively establishing bounce as a New Orleans powerhouse.
For the next 30 years, Bounce would slowly but steadily see an increase in usage. The genre gave birth to record companies that would become music’s mainstays to this day: Cash Money Records and No Limit Records. At the turn of the 2000s, Big Freedia (Freddie Ross Jr. would be the driving force behind bounce becoming a household name. Bounce is now used in the works of mainstream artists like Beyonce, The Ying Yang Twins, T.I., and Drake. However, this sound is now spearheading modern mainstream rap. Although, it’s not the only sound that New Orleans has to offer.
New Orleans Bouncing to Alternative.
The city of New Orleans houses two childhood friends who began rapping at an early age. “Juu” (born Julian Lombard) and _THESMOOTHCAT (born Joshua Henderson) are collectively known as “NOFACESMOOV.” If you take the jazzy style and lyricism of A Tribe Called Quest, merge it with the wordplay of Lil Wayne, and throw in a little Odd Future, you’ll yield the alternative style that New Orleans is producing.
“It was just time for us to come together,” Juu told Trill Mag. “We both knew that it was a long time coming and just decided to make things how they are. It’s like a workplace for us.” The duo released their self-titled effort on December 2, 2022, filled with songs that incite a groove that can only be found in New Orleans Alternative Rap.
The album comes in at just under 35 minutes. However, the short length does nothing to take away from the art laced in their production and lyrics. “I just think it ended up that way,” _THESMOOTHCAT told Trill Mag. “I look at it like it’s something you can travel to. It’s just enough to give the listener a good experience. 2023 is a huge year for the duo, both as a unit and individually. “We got something coming later this year,” Juu said.
Why is New Orleans bouncing towards an alternative? It’s fair to say that New Orleans has contributed to hip-hop, but it has more culture to offer to the evolving state of hip-hop. Because New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz, the fledgling sound gives the music a slice of urban life. Remember, New Orleans is more than just a** shaking and gumbo. It’s an urban melting pot of art, culture, and diversity.