Where My Peoples at? New Orleans' Bounce Rap and the Experience of Disaster

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:15 PM
Room: Booth 48
Oral Presentation
Natalie BAKER , University of California, Irvine, New Orleans, LA
Charis KUBRIN , University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
The connection between place and cultural expressions, such as music, is well established by scholars. This is particularly true for New Orleans where multiple forms of music like jazz and brass bands are thought to be both unique to the city and representative of social conditions there. While there have been a number of studies on the importance of New Orleans African American musical practices, little attention has been paid to those native to the city’s most disenfranchised areas. Bounce rap is ‘New Orleans project music’ and is a patently local form of expression that gives voice to life in very poor areas of the city. Since Katrina, numerous housing projects, home to many bounce artists and audiences, have been torn down and replaced with mixed-income developments. Largely lauded as a positive move, the loss of the projects is not without consequence and has further disrupted long-standing communities that were dispersed by the storm. Many residents, including local musicians, remain displaced. Little is known about what bounce rap music demonstrates about the artist’s perspectives of life before and after Katrina. We examine this issue through a thematic content analysis of pre-and-post Katrina bounce rap music lyrics. The research addresses what bounce music, as a reflection of life in New Orleans, reveals about changes in the social structures of low-income black neighborhoods of the city. We also discuss if and how this significant cultural practice has been transformed by the storm.