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Rap Music and Local Identity in New Orleans

Matt Miller

Publication Year: 2012

Over the course of the twentieth century, African Americans in New Orleans helped define the genres of jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, and funk. In recent decades, younger generations of New Orleanians have created a rich and dynamic local rap scene, which has revolved around a dance-oriented style called “bounce.” Hip-hop has been the latest conduit for a “New Orleans sound” that lies at the heart of many of the city’s best-known contributions to earlier popular music genres. Bounce, while globally connected and constantly evolving, reflects an enduring cultural continuity that reaches back and builds on the city’s rich musical and cultural traditions. In this book, the popular music scholar and filmmaker Matt Miller explores the ways in which participants in New Orleans’s hip-hop scene have collectively established, contested, and revised a distinctive style of rap that exists at the intersection of deeply rooted vernacular music traditions and the modern, globalized economy of commercial popular music. Like other forms of grassroots expressive culture in the city, New Orleans rap is a site of intense aesthetic and economic competition that reflects the creativity and resilience of the city’s poor and working-class African Americans.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press


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Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

First of all, I thank my parents, James and Martha LaFollette Miller, for their support and encouragement of all of my creative endeavors, including this book. I am indebted to Allen Tullos, Tim Dowd, and Anna Grimshaw at Emory University for their help in the early stages of the project. ...

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pp. 1-16

In late July 2005 I was in New Orleans, working on the documentary film project Ya Heard Me? I walked in the sweltering midday heat through the French Quarter to Odyssey Records on Canal Street, where I paid $9.98 for a self-produced CD by DJ Chicken (Kenneth Williams Jr.). ...

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1. African American Life and Culture in New Orleans: From Congo Square to Katrina and Beyond

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pp. 17-43

As a European colony, New Orleans was always liminal and problematic. The city’s geographic position, connecting the vast North American interior to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, held out tantalizing possibilities with regard to the dominance of trade and territory, but its remoteness, semitropical climate, ...

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2. “The City That Is Overlooked”: Rap Beginnings, 1980–1991

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pp. 44-74

The development of rap in New Orleans was strongly influenced by the genre’s wider national context, including an early focus in New York and the subsequent development (in the late 1980s and early ’90s) of a parallel scene in and around Los Angeles. Artists and companies from these two places (eventually labeled the “East Coast” and the “West Coast”) ...

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3. “Where They At”: Bounce, 1992–1994

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pp. 75-108

In the years between 1992 and 1995, New Orleans’s rap scene was transformed by the sudden emergence and rise to widespread local popularity of a distinctive style of rap music, eventually labeled “bounce.” Driven by the collective efforts of “independent production networks and links between artists, studio producers, ...

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4. “Bout It”: New Orleans Breaking Through, 1995–2000

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pp. 109-140

Between 1992 and 1994 the rise of bounce transformed rap as both an art form and a business in New Orleans. The increasingly well-defined preferences of local audiences encouraged particular kinds of musical and lyrical content. While constrained in their ability to move beyond New Orleans and its hinterlands, ...

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5. “Lights Out”: Stagnation, Decline, and the Resurgence of the Local, 2001–2005

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pp. 141-159

Thanks to the lucrative partnerships between major music corporations and local independent record labels, the exposure of New Orleans–based artists and labels within the national rap music industry reached its zenith in the years from 1996 to 1999. The achievements of No Limit and Cash Money were the stuff of legend, ...

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6. Bouncing Back: After Katrina, Toward an Uncertain Future

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pp. 160-176

Over the twenty-five years leading up to Hurricane Katrina, bleak socioeconomic conditions in New Orleans took their toll on participants in the local music scene, as rappers, producers, DJs, and record label owners were among those affected by violent crime and economic marginalization. ...


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pp. 177-194

New Orleans Rap: A Selected Discography

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pp. 195-206


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pp. 207-214

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613761991
E-ISBN-10: 1613761996
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558499355
Print-ISBN-10: 1558499350

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 10 illus.
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 830022975
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Bounce

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Bounce (Music) -- History and criticism.
  • Rap (Music) -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History and criticism.
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