Homosexuality and Hip-Hop : The Gay Rapper Thread

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For Immediate Release
January 28, 2010

WHERE THEY AT: A MULTI-MEDIA ARCHIVE OF NEW ORLEANS BOUNCE

Documenting the Latest Indigenous Musical Genre To Arise From the Streets of New Orleans, Focusing on Gay & Transgendered Performers

February 11 – March 27, 2010 at Abrons Art Center
The Abrons Arts Center is proud to announce Where They At, an exhibition that portrays the founders, architects, and players in New Orleans hip-hop and the uniquely regional rap known as bounce music, a phenomenon that evolved from the communities based in the city’s housing projects. Photographs, oral histories, and video footage compiled by photographer Aubrey Edwards and journalist Alison Fensterstock document the passing of seminal beats from New Orleans music traditions to a new generation in the late 1980's, and the creation of this new voice in Southern roots music.

This exhibition at the Abrons Arts Center features portraits culled from the larger archive of New Orleans hip-hop and bounce artists to focus on women and gay and transgendered men in early New Orleans hip-hop and bounce. The prominence of queer members of the bounce community, such as Big Freedia, Sissy Nobby, and Vockah Redu, defies the myth of insurmountable homophobia within Hip-Hop, and speaks to a curious tradition in African-American entertainment in New Orleans, which has accepted and celebrated queer and cross-dressing entertainers for over half a century. Katey Red, a Sissy, was signed to the prominent bounce record label Take Fo’.

Audio-visual stations offer footage of live performances as well as oral history recordings by members and tradition bearers of the Bounce community. Collected ephemera, such as LPs, tapes and posters highlight the material culture and its adaptations over time. A full online cultural archive will be launched in conjunction with the exhibition, serving as the only resource of its kind in hip-hop research.

This multi-media archive draws a line to the present-day diaspora, as Hurricane Katrina has scattered a once tight-knit bounce and hip-hop community whose music only existed at home — a home that has been redefined physically and culturally. Where They At will also be exhibited during SXSW in Austin, Texas and will launch during Jazz Fest in New Orleansat the Odgen Museum of Southern Art, where numerous events spanning several months have been planned.

New Orleans has midwifed every existing form of indigenous American music, including funk and the street music exemplified by 2nd Line bands and Mardi Gras Indians. Hip-hop is the newest manifestation of that Southern tradition. Mardi Gras Indian chants, brass band beats and call-and-response routines equally inform bounce music, which almost invariably samples the Showboys’ “Drag Rap” (a.k.a. “Triggerman”) and Derek B’s “Rock the Beat” or Cameron Paul’s “Brown Beats.” Featuring lyrical patterns that focus mainly on sex, parties and dancing, it invites – even demands – audience participation by calling out dance steps or prompting replies.

In the 90’s heyday of New Orleans hip-hop, female rappers like Mia X, Ms Tee, Magnolia Shorty and Cheeky Blakk appeared in significant number with songs that were just as bawdy and aggressive as their male counterparts. Often, their tracks served as answer songs that challenged male MC’s sexism in a way that created playfully ribald conversation, such as Silky Slimm’s “Sista Sista” or Mia X’s “Da Payback.”

The full Where They At archive project will open at the Smithsonian-affiliated Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans in April 2010, on the eve of the first Jazz Fest weekend.

Where They At is the title of a song generally recognized as the first bounce release, recorded by DJ Jimi Payton in 1992 for producer Isaac Bolden’s Avenue Records. (The song was recorded earlier the same year as a homemade cassette-only release by rapper T.T. Tucker, with the late DJ Irv.)To all accounts, these recordings marked the point in time at which New Orleans rap found its own voice in the raw, celebratory, infectious block-party sound that would go on to influence artists at the top of the game. The chants Jimi originated on that track, “Do it, baby, stick it” and “Shake that ass like a salt shaker” are still quoted by Bounce artists recording and DJing parties today. DJ Jimi famously used his mother and grandmother as backup dancers.

Alison Fensterstock is a New Orleans-based music journalist. From 2006-2009, she wrote an award-winning music column for the city’s alt-weekly, The Gambit. Her writing on roots music and New Orleans rap has appeared in MOJO, Vibe, Q, Paste, Spin and the Oxford American Music Issue. Recently, she wrote the text for “Unsung Heroes: The Secret History of Louisiana Rock n’ Roll,” an exhibit currently on display at the Louisiana State Museum. She is the programming director for the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation. Her Gambit cover story on gay and transgendered bounce artists in New Orleans, “Sissy Strut,” was selected for an honorable mention in Da Capo Press’s Best Music Writing 2009.

Aubrey Edwards is a Brooklyn- and New Orleans-based music photographer and educator. Edwards was the primary music photographer for the alt-weekly Austin Chronicle from 2004-2008; her present client list includes the United Nations, Magnolia Pictures, Playboy, SPIN and Comedy Central. She teaches photography and videography in Brooklyn schools, as well as with continuing adult education. Her recent work in New Orleans includes guest lecturing with the University of New Orleans photo department and conducting workshops with the New Orleans Kid Camera Project.

UPCOMING “WHERE THEY AT” EVENTS

February 11, 2010, 6-9 pm: Opening at the Abrons Art Center/ Henry Street Settlement

466 Grand Street (on the Lower East Side), New York, NY
212.598.0400
Trains: J/M/Z or F to Delancey/Essex; B/D to Grand St.

March 16-21, 2010: South by Southwest events

Day Party/Closing party at the Birdhouse Gallery

1304 E. Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX

April 22, 2010: Full archive opening at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

900 Camp St., New Orleans LA

April 23, 2010: Partial exhibition opening on the grounds of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in the Grandstand.

Ongoing programming at the Ogden Museum, including performances, live interviews and screenings, will continue through July 2010 – dates TBD.

Kevin John Bozelka, Thursday, 28 January 2010 19:25 (4 years ago) Permalink

haha Katey Red and Vockah Reduh used to diss the shit out of each other. "They call her Vockah Redu because she re-do all the shit that I do."

zvookster, Thursday, 28 January 2010 19:32 (4 years ago) Permalink

faggotbruce.com

"Love me or hate me, it ain't matter. You still gon' git touched." apparently

harzan, Thursday, 28 January 2010 22:38 (4 years ago) Permalink

was hoping this thread would be revived for kanye's official but i guess we'll carry on waiting

brrrrrrrrrrrrrt_stanton (a hoy hoy), Thursday, 28 January 2010 22:43 (4 years ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...

Aubrey Edwards & Alison Fensterstock on NY radio taking about Bounce and sissy rap. The host makes much of how hard it was to even find brief clips that were playable on the radio. lol FCC lol fundie U.S.

They're also taking Partners-N-Crime, DJ Jubilee, Katey Red, Big Freedia, Vockah Redu, Magnolia Shorty and Ms Tee to SXSW in March, kickstarter page here.

zvookster, Saturday, 13 February 2010 16:25 (4 years ago) Permalink

I've been thinking about Tupac.

I'm definitely not saying Pac is gay,
(I seriously doubt that)

but I do think it's interesting what he got away with
while still being considered "hard"
I mean, his Thug Life legacy
overlooks the fact that he started out a ballet dancer in school
and rented books from his school library such as "The Definitive History of Theater"
He also apparently listened to Kate Bush & read Shakespeare.
seriously, how did he get away with that stuff?

here's a contrast between early tupac & later:

lukevalentine, Thursday, 18 February 2010 13:27 (4 years ago) Permalink

oh, btw I don't believe homosexuality is intrinsically synonymous w/ effeteness or some kind of "masculinity fail"
but hard / gay is the dichotomy within mainstream hip hop obviously

lukevalentine, Thursday, 18 February 2010 13:35 (4 years ago) Permalink

that's a very nice leather bustier you've got there, pac

she got dumps like a rage, rage (The Reverend), Friday, 19 February 2010 01:09 (4 years ago) Permalink

<3 early marc loi 2pac <3

queen frostine (Eric H.), Friday, 19 February 2010 01:17 (4 years ago) Permalink

haha otm

she got dumps like a rage, rage (The Reverend), Friday, 19 February 2010 01:29 (4 years ago) Permalink

that Sissy Bounce shit is the bomb. loved writing that event up while listenin to katey red.

i have the last issue of Outpunk somewhere, there's a great, lengthy article on queers in hip-hop. i'll pull it out sometime sooon.

begonia perineum (the table is the table), Friday, 19 February 2010 01:37 (4 years ago) Permalink

50 Cent: Not Homophobic/"Ain't Into Faggots"

Untrue.

billstevejim, Friday, 19 February 2010 03:09 (4 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

am0n, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 16:27 (4 years ago) Permalink

we work hard, we play hard

surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 18:18 (4 years ago) Permalink

Not revived for Emanuel Vinson?

jaymc, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 18:41 (4 years ago) Permalink

holy shit, "Ghost De Megafloor" is fucking fantastic

Marriage, that's where I'm a Viking! (HI DERE), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 19:51 (4 years ago) Permalink

Too many adjectives and backslashes.

cool and remote like dancing girls (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 19:52 (4 years ago) Permalink

lol okay this guy has only 1 good track

Marriage, that's where I'm a Viking! (HI DERE), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 20:21 (4 years ago) Permalink

where all them gay rappers at?
it's like xanadu in this habitat

Shakey Ja Mocha (M@tt He1ges0n), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 20:23 (4 years ago) Permalink

seems like i should have an opinion on this but

plax (ico), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 20:23 (4 years ago) Permalink

recently a guy i know's been at the center of a 'gay rapper' controversy -- basically he's been on the local battle rap circuit for a few years, has a slight lisp and has been dressing more loud/hipsterish lately, decided to respond to gay rumors by spitting some o_O innuendo at a battle to throw an opponent off his game. then when video of the battle got online, it ended up all over worldstarhiphop, thisis50 as 'the gay battle rapper'. he says he's straight so i dunno how he's dealing with all this but it's pretty nuts.

it ain't hard to tell, I'm a viking, then prevail (some dude), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 20:48 (4 years ago) Permalink

well, hey, free publicity can't exactly be all bad for someone trying to break into the music industry

he's always been a bit of an anti-climb Max (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 21:24 (4 years ago) Permalink

ya it worked for joe budden

am0n, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 21:25 (4 years ago) Permalink

lol

but yeah dude seems to be looking at it primarily as free publicity

Thug Motivation 102: The Weinspiration (some dude), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 21:30 (4 years ago) Permalink

this the battle you talking about?

http://worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshh0qQ6bL6JB3MmdeCp

Shakey Ja Mocha (M@tt He1ges0n), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 21:38 (4 years ago) Permalink

yup

Thug Motivation 102: The Weinspiration (some dude), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 21:39 (4 years ago) Permalink

dude is a pretty good battle rapper

Shakey Ja Mocha (M@tt He1ges0n), Wednesday, 28 April 2010 21:40 (4 years ago) Permalink

haha

am0n, Thursday, 29 April 2010 01:35 (4 years ago) Permalink

11 months pass...

http://www.theroot.com/buzz/hot-97-deejay-busted-public-sex-man

Mister Cee got caught getting head from a dude in public. Twitter homophobia ensues.

banjee trillness (The Reverend), Tuesday, 5 April 2011 13:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

Wasn't Missy Elliot rumoured to be gay? And she co-wrote Oops, Oh My with/for Tweet, which seemed like it could be a lesbian fantasy that just stopped short of explicitly coming out.

stooping as low to include electronic blips and bloops (superflyguy), Tuesday, 5 April 2011 13:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

Missy rumors seem kind of irrelevant now that the biggest female rapper in like 10 years is openly bisexual

Turn My Slag On (some dude), Tuesday, 5 April 2011 13:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

Not one mention on this thread of Soce the Elemental Wizard?

Mordy, Tuesday, 5 April 2011 13:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

During his performances, he typically dons a wizard’s cap.[1]

banjee trillness (The Reverend), Tuesday, 5 April 2011 13:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

^^I think that might be all the explanation needed.

banjee trillness (The Reverend), Tuesday, 5 April 2011 13:38 (3 years ago) Permalink

banjee trillness (The Reverend), Tuesday, 5 April 2011 13:53 (3 years ago) Permalink

loooooooooool

ban parappa (the rapper) (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 5 April 2011 13:54 (3 years ago) Permalink

man did a twitter search on #mrcee

how fucking shameful hip hop

Bleeqwot the Chef (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 7 April 2011 20:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

thought thread was being bumped for this:

symsymsym, Thursday, 7 April 2011 21:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah that song is awesome

banjee trillness (The Reverend), Thursday, 7 April 2011 21:16 (3 years ago) Permalink

man did a twitter search on #mrcee

how fucking shameful hip hop

Yeah, without trying to turn this into a thing about race, I always forget just how homophobic large portions of the African-American community are.

'what are you, the Hymen Protection League of America?' (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 7 April 2011 21:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

I mean, yeah, plenty of homophobes of all races, but there is an ingrained cultural thing in the African-American community that rears its head when stuff like this happens.

'what are you, the Hymen Protection League of America?' (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 7 April 2011 21:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

communities that feel threatened demographically are usually pretty homophobic and anti-abortion. it's like a self-preservation/MUST PROCREATE AT ALL COSTS kind of thinking

in my world of loose geirs (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 7 April 2011 21:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

(and yeah duh obviously not unique to black community)

in my world of loose geirs (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 7 April 2011 21:27 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, without trying to turn this into a thing about race, I always forget just how homophobic large portions of the African-American community are.

― 'what are you, the Hymen Protection League of America?' (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, April 7, 2011 5:25 PM (2 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

nice try not turning this into a thing about race

ban drake (the rapper) (max), Thursday, 7 April 2011 21:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

ha max

banjee trillness (The Reverend), Thursday, 7 April 2011 21:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

LeRooLeRoo, Thursday, 7 April 2011 21:40 (3 years ago) Permalink

nice try not turning this into a thing about race

Do you ever just lay off dude? I'm sorry, I'll try to talk to my friend who teaches minority studies to provide me with specific references I can cite next time.

'what are you, the Hymen Protection League of America?' (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 7 April 2011 21:42 (3 years ago) Permalink


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