That’s how rapper, party promoter, and restaurateur 10th Ward Buck would define bounce in a sentence or less. It’s the name for the 1986 song “Drag Rap” by the Showboys, and its samples have been the backbone to bounce’s beat for two decades now. Buck also has a longer definition though, 204-pages long to be exact, and it’s a brand-new book titled The Definition of Bounce: Between Ups and Downs in New Orleans. Filled with photos by eight photographers, interviews with 10th Ward Buck and bounce personality Lucky Johnson, and a timeline of important events in the history of bounce and New Orleans hip-hop in general, the book paints a picture of the music that both a veteran of the scene and a complete newbie can enjoy.
Buck was inspired by the vast post-Katrina New Orleans diaspora, people who grew up with bounce and have begun to spread it to Houston, Atlanta, and other cities that are mostly unfamiliar with bounce’s musical culture. “A lot of the DJs [in these cities] sparked the idea,” Buck says. “They would get on the mic and say, ‘These people from New Orleans like bounce music. If anyone has a CD, bring it to the DJ booth.’ I wanted to spread the word—this is bounce. This is what we do. This is the definition. The people that don’t know what it is can learn about it and the people that are displaced can still have a piece of it.”
The Definition of Bounce is already available online at Amazon and gcpress.com and at local record stores Peaches, Odyssey, and Nuthin’ But Fire, but Saturday, June 25 will be an official all-day celebration for the book’s release. Downtown, Peaches will host a signing from noon-2 p.m., followed by a block party at Nuthin’ But Fire Records beginning at 3 p.m. The party moves uptown in the evening for a release party at Club 8 Ball at 9 p.m. Finally, on Sunday 10th Ward Buck will host a video shoot and wing-eating contest at his restaurant Finger Lick’n Wings.
The restaurant, which has played host to block parties in the past, is one of many locations featured in the photographs, including Airline Skate Center, Club Caesar’s, Roc-a-Fella 2.5, the Cricket Club, and more. The most prominent setting, though, is the street, home of the block party. It was at neighborhood block parties that Buck, like so many New Orleanians, grew up with bounce, hearing it first at the age of eight, being performed by MC T.T. Tucker in the St. Thomas housing project.
Tucker and his peers were the first to imprint the “Triggaman” beat in the heads and legs (and asses) of New Orleans. “In bounce you have the same bass line, same beat at the bottom,” Buck says. “Every song we do we use that same sample, but we notice that certain other sounds or sound effects give the beat flavor.”
While some samples remain the same, Buck has seen bounce change, both lyrically and musically. “When I got it into bounce it was mainly street and it was a lot of cursing,” he says. “You had a lot of vulgar language and a lot of seeing the actual booty. What I did was I just started changing some of the words. But when I say ‘drop and give me 50‘ you know what I’m talking about. Not only that, bounce was also slow. Now it’s faster than the original beat and tempo.”
The photography in The Definition of Bounce helps chart bounce’s progression, with photos ranging from 2000-2008. A youthful Magnolia Shorty can be seen decked out in pink at a 2002 party at Airline Skate Center, and Sissy Nobby and Big Freedia are present at block parties prior to the national attention they’ve recently received. Buck’s favorite photo? Page 152. “[The guy in the white shirt] has got this umbrella over me so the sun doesn’t get me, and the girls just shake. I can’t get tired before the audience, you know, I’ve got to wear them out.”
With the rise in popularity of YouTube, Big Freedia, and of course the infamous “Wal-Mart” video (“It was a bad way to get bounce represented but it’s here, and you have a lot of people researching it now,” says Buck), bounce is spreading farther than ever, but “dat beat” hasn’t left its birthplace, New Orleans. “It’s been here forever and it’s going to be here forever,” Buck states. “People leave New Orleans and they go other places and it’s just not right. I go to other clubs when I perform sometimes and when they’re not playing bounce music I just feel sick. I’m like ‘Goddamn, where’s that beat?’ Give me a little “Triggaman,” Cheeky Blakk, Big Freedia, Sissy Nobby. It’s not going to lose its hold. It’s our music, it’s what we do.
“If New Orleans were to lose it, it would have done it during Katrina when just about all the music was gone and everybody was displaced. Bounce is not going to lose its swagger. That’s what we grew up on. Children going to school early in the morning, they’re hearing that beat: ‘Do it, a do it, do it, do it.’ The only thing that’s going to make a party roll is your music, your type of music.”