“It’s an entity I put together. We are ready to tell a story,” says Katey Red, the trans queen of New Orleans bounce rap, speaking on her new “Dream Team,” performing at Voodoo Music Experience 2012. Red’s Voodoo gig has become her annual chance to show attendees of the high-profile festival the side of bounce she wants them to see.
Red will be joined on stage by down-low rappers Ha’ Sizzle and Walt Wiggady. “Ha’ Sizzle, his first lil slight hit was ‘She Rode That Dick Like a Soldier,’” explains Red. “He did it in concert at gay bars and stuff like that but he never got out with it. Walt Wiggady is a big guy, and he moves around real good. He don’t have a hit, but I am looking at [this as] a show. With all his moves, he will be perfect for a show.”
The veteran of Red’s Dream Team is 37-year-old Cheeky Blakk, who has treated bounce as more than a game for more than 22 years. “Cheeky is a legend. She needs to be heard more,” Red states emphatically, though the two only got to know each other after their performance at last year’s Voodoo Music Experience. Voodoo is another step toward a new audience for Ms. Blakk. Through her Rebirth Brass Band collaboration, “Pop That Pussy,” she was introduced to Galactic, who then built their Ya-Ka-May tune “Do It Again” around Blakk’s feminine growl. She will also appear in the current season of Treme, singing the character Davis’ song “I Quit,” to which she added the line, “I quit / I don’t give a shit / I don’t give a damn about how you live it.”
To hear Blakk talk in YouTube videos and in her rhymes is to enter an elaborate world of slang: Blakk has no time for “pickle tips,” as she speaks “off the bub.” After announcing her Facebook and Twitter addresses on an episode of “Phat Phat and All That” she declares, “Just get at me! You can hit me any kind of way long as you hit me with that turkey neck, y’heard me?” Blakk elaborates on the theme of “trade” in her newest song, “Trade Snatcher”: “Trade is male person, straight up,” she tells OffBeat. “You would never use that word for a female at all. Instead of ‘That’s my nigga’ or ‘That’s my boy,’ it’s ‘That’s my trade.’ And I’m snatch your trade.”
Of her penchant for blue material Blakk says, “I see myself as a baby Millie Jackson. She come with it raw and nasty.” Blakk is also prone to sing like Jackson when the spirit moves her, such as on her song “Ride for My Nigga.”
But most of Blakk’s music showcases a less frantic, more laid-back, old-school bounce style. Her young partner for the show, 25-year-old Magnolia Rhome, represents the young, fast side of bounce. The two met through Blakk’s friend, Rhome’s mom. The veteran and the newcomer have since performed together at the Republic and at South By Southwest music festival among other shows. “Rhome is takin’ up for Magnolia Shorty and I see he has potential and he needs help,” says Katey Red. “I give him the promotion he need and I get him paid as well. I did the same for Freedia, and I did the same for Nicky da B. I do that kinda stuff. I do it for the bounce community.”
Rhome attributes his career to the late Magnolia Shorty, Rhome’s former neighbor in the Magnolia projects, whom he sometimes called “Mom.” “I don’t want to say I wrote some of her songs,” says Rhome, “but I normally would help her with little stuff, like if I heard something I didn’t like I might tell her something I thought would sound better.“ When Shorty was shot 26 times in 2010, Rhome began recording and performing his own music in her honor.
Rhome’s biggest neighborhood hit thus far is “Honey Bun.” “I was making rhymes one day with all the Little Debbie cakes, and like donut sticks, Oreos,” says Rhome. “And I just went on with Honey Buns. Actually it’s a girl’s booty, I guess.”
Rhome’s voice shares the gravelly quality that gives Sissy Nobby’s bounce a reggaeton flavor. His recorded output, though, is decidedly in debt to cut-and-paste techniques. Rhome claims that, in concert, he can pull off those 16-bar tongue trills: “It just come out so smoothly,” he says, then successfully demonstrates. “I learn how to really do it, and play with it. I really do it live.”
The Dream Team set will be topped off with Katey Red’s all male dance group, the Danger Boys, of whom Red notes, “They do the booty shaking but they also do the shoulders, they do the legs. It’s the boy version of how you dance to bounce music.” As for all girl counterpart the Diamond Dolls, she exclaims, “[They] just take the stage like a bunch of red ants! They just take over everything, just booty shakin’ everywhere!”