The following feature appears in the June/July issue of NYLON.
For the uninitiated, bounce is a regional music culture that emerged in early ’90s New Orleans from a combination of local traditions (call-and-response, Mardi Gras Indian chants, hip-hop, and dance). Largely defined by 808-style backbeats like the Triggerman and the Brown beat, the sound is one of heavily patterned, upbeat rhythms that inspire you to do something with dat azz. Nowadays, when people outside of New Orleans hear “bounce,” they often think of twerking, or Big Freedia, whose voice was featured—following the late Messy Mya’s—on Beyoncé’s “Formation,” which was built on a bounce beat, with a video that notably/notoriously features footage from a mini-doc about bounce culture. But, as anyone from the 504 will tell you, it’s way more than that.
“Bounce? Been around...forever.” I’m talking to one of New Orleans’s hottest artists, 25-year-old Reedy, outside of the women’s restroom at Lyve Nite Club on Tulane Avenue—Uptown, near the center of the city. Muffled bass lines and the sounds of Southern rap seep through the walls that separate us from the club’s main room, where, in about an hour, Reedy and other big names in the local bounce scene will be performing for a packed audience.
She’s leaning against the wall, talking in a slightly raspy voice—even when she’s not performing, she sounds like New Orleans—surrounded by friends that all look like they could be my own: Beautiful black girls in braids and bright colors. One’s rocking bunny ears (it is an Easter shakedown, after all). The whole scene reminds me of the place where I grew up. I’ve known this to be a defining feature of bounce culture for a while now—for lots of people, it feels familiar, comfortable, like home.