'Shake It Like a Salt Shaker': Bounce Music Defies Labels in New Orleans

The hypersexual, progressive bounce scene in post-Katrina New Orleans suggests a new wave of hip-hop.

Warning: The music is addictive and the dancing explicit.

The New Orleans hip-hop sound known as Bounce is part dance, part workout, part call-and-response chant, and part a reason “to bounce your bits.” The Sundance Channel's New American Noise series recently toured the sweaty nightclubs and storm-ravaged neighborhoods where the genre thrives.

Shot with a C300 camera and vintage lenses, directed by Abteen Bagheri, and produced by Tash Tan and Brooke DeVard Smith, the video above chronicles bounce music’s evolution from the early 1990s to post-Katrina New Orleans, with testimonies from music insiders and performers. Along with the subgenre’s hypersexuality comes an emerging acceptance of LGBT representation, pioneered by one person in particular. Katey Red, a transgender former prostitute, is a celebrated member of the “sissy rap” community, an overtly gay and transgender subset of the bounce scene. A few years ago, when various local rappers decided to forgo bounce for commercial venues outside of New Orleans, their absence left space for new artists. In an industry widely criticized for its virulent homophobia, “sissy rap” hints at the evolving nature of hip-hop. But there’s disagreement within hip-hop circles over whether the term “sissy” disrespects the bounce movement itself.

For more by New American Noise, visit their site.

Via Vimeo’s Staff Picks.

Alessandra Ram is a former writer and producer for The Atlantic Video Channel. Her work has also appeared in Foreign Policy.

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