Bounce enters electric through the ears, runs in currents through the body and sends shocks into the ass. Earthed in the rhythms of New Orleans, bounce mixes street vibes, sissy style and black magic to go beyond the shores of the Mississippi and dive deep into the ocean of the world wide web.
The muddy land under an American town grows cotton, music and freedom. The roots of New Orleans have been soaked for centuries in the magical waters of the Mississippi River – dark and blessed waters that wet the lips of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet, and that told their souls stories of seduction, wildness and rebellion.
Welcome to the land of jazz, the genre that showed the road to rock, gave wings to blues, themes to hip hop and now teaches a new rhythm to crawl. Baptized as bounce, fast and furious, this sound was born in the 80s and has aged into a Molotov cocktail of street stylings: rap, call and response, jazz and electronic twists. Caffeine and taurine are the main ingredients of a violent sound to carry the listener into a trance – a forceful sound that makes you dance.
'If it weren't for music, life would be a mistake,' says Monsta, one of the local lords of the bounce sound. 'Without bounce, this shit would be dry. Bounce is the beat of life. It's like hot sauce. You put the beat on and say, "shake it, bounce it, twerk it." It's like, “spin it like a helicopter. Dribble like a basket-ball. Swing it out of the park like a baseball.” In bounce, you just do you – I mean you dance. Shake, swerve, back it up, toot it up, spread your legs, spin it like a washing machine, wobble like a helicopter – that's the way the body goes,' he tells through golden teeth. 'It's that simple.'
Bounce comes from the streets, from the hood and Mardi Gras, from the second lines of the brass bands, from the brilliant ideas of musicians like DJ Jubilee, DJ Jimi and MC T.Tucker. Bounce is New Orleans hip hop amped up to high voltage – an electric shock that enters through the ears, shakes the brain, bursts in the arms and stays suspended in the bottom, turning between cheek and cheek. Dancing bounce is like playing hula hoop at 10,000 rpm. It transforms the body's back-end into a centrifuge, into a blender.
'Bounce means everything to me,' says DJ Jubilee, one of the subculture's founding fathers. 'It is a passion that I want to share with the people, to let them know that this is something that New Orleans creates, that this is our music.'
Spin it like a helicopter – Swing it out of the park like a baseball.
Sissy Nobby, 31, New Orleans, United States
Bounce is always changing, mixing and playing with styles and trends, recreating itself. In this mood, pushing hard on the throttle, and with their asses fixed in a rotating loop, three kitsch and queer artists known as Katey Red, Big Freedia and Sissy Nobby have become a phenomenon online.
Due, in large part, to surprise at the presence of an out-and-out gay element in urban hip hop culture, hipster media on the web has buzzed about the new sub-genre. Spreading fast through the blogosphere, the internet has given Katey Red, Big Freedia and Sissy Nobby the status of man divas and let them teach the whole world how to spin, shake, break and bounce properly. They are the soul of what the internet calls 'sissy bounce' – the tasty 2.0 version of big jazz idols like Henry 'Red' Allen or King Oliver.
'I owe YouTube a lot,' says Sissy Nobby. 'This was the platform where DJs realized that I have potential, and it's a really important tool for self-promotion and for making the people know you and your music.' But there are problems with the way they're presented on the web. 'We don’t like the label sissy bounce. We are sissies but we do bounce music, so there's no such thing as sissy bounce – it’s all just bounce.' His answer is tired; journalists keep asking about a genre they themselves invented at a computer screen, and questions about sissy bounce are an irritation.
Up from the roots, queer style, jazz and hip hop have met and given birth to something new. As it jumps from the New Orleans sidewalks to the internet, and then to the world, it gains pace like a hurricane. While it grows and gets known, it's fighting to keep its original identity, to remember where it's from, and to save its name.