Bronx, New Orleans: Respect Where it Started is an idea that more or less markets itself: using New Orleans samples, Bronx DJ Bazooka Joe and New Orleans rapper Impulss bring together the mythical birthplaces of American music and of hip-hop. Doing so, they can take the vital New Orleans hip-hop sound that’s now affecting the national charts, and take it back to its origins. Hip-hop concept albums like this one, though, can lose momentum once they burn through their guest stars: Dres from Queens’ Black Sheep, DJ Quickie Mart and Truth Universal stand out among the names featured.
Happily, this project is substantially more fully conceived than most. Bazooka Joe weaves together his influences into a coherent and fresh-sounding soundscape. New Orleans music is inexhaustible where breakbeats, bass lines, and funky horn licks are concerned, and Bronx, New Orleans covers a wide spectrum, from R&B and funk to brass bands. Impulss’ New Orleans accent and vocabulary—there’s plenty of “ya heard me” and a track called, somewhat unfortunately, “Yeaux (Live from New Orleans)”— aside, though, the musical emphasis here is on the Bronx. The lines and verses come fast, and the samples and loops keep pace. By the time the drums come in, the kick-snare pattern sounds like backpack hip-hop from the late ‘90s. That is, in many ways, a testament to the concept’s success and its attempt to write a new kind of history: Bazooka Joe brings music to where hip-hop started.