I've never been to New Orleans, and most of what I know about the city is from popular culture, news reports, and documentaries. I'm due for a trip, but I'm also excited for David Simon's new show Treme to give me more insight into what may be one of the US' least understood (from the outside), but most interesting cities. I'm a big fan of Simon's, The Wire, and I'm ready for New Orleans to get some of the attention it deserves, something that in my opinion did a lot for Baltimore's notoriety on a global scale.
From Congo Square and folk tunes to 2nd line marches, its fomenting the roots of Jazz to influencing Ska, the flavor it adds to Funk and mainstream American Rap to the current Bounce scene in its various permutations, it has to be pound for pound the world's most influential musical city.
When I was in High School, Master P and his No Limit Records label were the giants of Southern Rap, the TRU album was definitely one of my favorites. P's marketed images of gritty New Orleans street life primed me for the upcoming national release of a more locally flavored sound:
This peek into New Orleans project life caught my attention, but the song with the shuffling snare that paced the quickly edited video, had me hooked. I must have gone straight out to the record store to find the CD, and remember being taken aback by the packaging when I came across the Pen and Pixel boxed CD cover.
I took the CD home, popped it in the player and out spit one of the most amazing album intros I've heard in my life, a Mannie Fresh produced tune:Big Tymers-Intro (from Juvenile's 400 Degreez)
At the time, I didn't know anything about the style that influenced the album, but there was something about the stuttering hi hats and snares, the funky horn stabs, and the smoothed-out drawl in the vocal delivery that made this one of my most exciting personal musical discoveries ever. It seemed old-school but fresh at the same time. Drawing connections across continents, it had the same aesthetic appeal that Coupe Decale has for me today.
The album's producer, Mannie Fresh, one of New Orleans' more prominent contemporary music names, started out in the 80's creating New Orleans Rap and Bounce tracks, leading to his best known work with Cash Money. This was the label that introduced, Juvenile, Lil' Wayne, and Birdman to the world (all who you can see at much younger and almost happily naive time in the above video.)
Many years later I am happy to see Bounce music, the bearer of the energy contained in that Juvenile album, make its way into the consciousness of music fans across the country. If you want to hear Bounce from a bit of a historical perspective check from out a great mixtape series by Cocaine, Blunts, and Hip Hop Tapes, and definitely make regular visits to Nolabounce.com for updates on what's happening in the contemporary scene.
Oh, and Juve's still making videos: