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From Mannie Fresh to Sissy Nobby: NOLA Hip-Hop Archive Opens

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Anyone who has spent time studying American popular music knows the oversized shadow cast by New Orleans. From marching bands to jazz to r&b to funk to marching bands (again), the city’s musical community has been a tireless creative force in our national culture. Bounce, the hyperspeed rap style that has dominated much of New Orlean’s local music scene during past two decades, is only the most recent innovation in a long series of genres.

Led by a battalion of high-impact gender-bending “sissy” rappers, the last few years have seen bounce gain an increasingly national profile. However, the roots of the scene, particularly its complex relations with the highly successful Cash Money and No Limits labels, has been difficult to parse. In some ways, the more successful bounce artists have become nationally, the harder it is to understand the local context that gave them birth.

Given our deep love of NOLA rap in all of its varieties (not to mention our desire to sort out all of these knotty historical hip-hop issues), we are really excited that an incredibly valuable resource has been added to the discussion. The Amistad Research Center has become the official home for the NOLA Hip-Hop and Bounce Archive, a collection that includes over 40 video interviews with the leading lights of generations of rappers and producers. Mystikal, Nicky da B, DJ Black n MildTT Tucker… The list goes on and on.

The archive comes out of a collaboration between founder/director Holly Hobbs, a Ph.D. student currently completing her dissertation on post-Katrina hip-hop in New Orleans, and music journalist (and longtime bounce champion) Alison Fensterstock, who put together the brilliant Where They At bounce exhibit of photos, posters, audio interviews and recordings. Contact Holly at nolahiphoparchive@gmail.com

Beyond stockpiling historical materials, the archive also plans to expand the interviews and continue to add to this invaluable collection. So dive in, and Check out the NOLA Hip-Hop and Bounce Archive.

And if you forgot how good bounce was? Here’s a mix to remind you. (RIP Nicky Da B, whose killer freestyle kicks this thing off.)

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