not going to muddle this up with a lot of words, but i met holly (see below) a few years ago via twitter, and in actual real life! but she’s a hell of a great person, and me thinks what she is doing here is pretty damn awesome, and important. so the rest of what you read will be from holly – you can follow her on twitter and visit her site.
here’s a direct link to the kickstarter page, just in case
I moved to New Orleans in late 2008, right before Hurricane Gustav and Obama’s historic election. It was an interesting time to move to New Orleans, and the past years have been a learning experience. I’ve always done lots of work in the music industry, but at the time I moved to New Orleans I started doing a lot more work in hiphop. I worked as an artist manager, as a promoter, in a PR capacity for DJ Raj Smoove and Dizzy, and as Co-Director of a small non-profit org called Hiphop for Hope that put on a kickass yearly concert at Tipitinas. At some point during all this I decided to finish my PhD at Tulane, and now I’m writing my dissertation on post-Katrina hiphop in the city.
Because I’ve done a lot of work in documentary film over the years and had worked for a few digital archives–an indigenous song archive in the west of Ireland and the EVIA (Ethnomusicological Video for Instruction and Analysis) archive via Indiana University and University of Michigan–it had always been an intention of mine to do some of this work with hiphop in New Orleans. Sometime in early 2012 the NOLA Hiphop Archive was born, and while it’s not affiliated formally with my PhD, it’s definitely been a little easier to get the ball rolling since I was already a student at Tulane. Small donations from Music Rising, the Tulane Summer Merit Fellowship program, and The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South have helped us progress, but the majority of the work done by myself, my videographer, and my PA has been on donated time and with donated resources.
So I decided to do a Kickstarter, because it’s a great platform to not only get funding but to help spread the word about the project. And as it stands, here’s where the project is right now:
-we’ve completed more than 30 videotaped interviews with hiphop and bounce pioneers and legendary artists in New Orleans so far, including Mannie Fresh, Mystikal, Partners N Crime, Dee-1, Ricky B, DJ Raj Smoove, Nesby Phips, Nicky da B & Rusty Lazer, Queen Blackkold Madina (Academy Award-winning rapper & star of the documentary Trouble the Water) and more;
-we have partnered with the Amistad Research Center, an amazing archive of African American history and culture located on Tulane’s New Orleans Uptown campus, to launch the NOLA Hiphop and Bounce Digital Archive, which means that these first 30+ interviews and Alison Fensterstock’s Where They At project materials will be available online and in person at Amistad free of charge to anyone interested in viewing the interviews;
-with the help of this (hopefully) successful Kickstarter campaign, we plan to conduct 30 more interviews in 2014.
-at least 10 of my interviews will be featured on the forthcoming Music Rising website, which is launching in January 2014.
Why should you care? From Cash Money and No Limit to Lil Wayne, Birdman, Mystikal, Mannie Fresh, Juvenile, Big Freedia & Curren$y to the strong currents of underground hiphop and bounce music that sustain the tradition, New Orleans has been a central location for hiphop since the 1990s. Today, rap music is arguably Louisiana’s most lucrative cultural export. But in the most widespread images of “New Orleans music,” the city’s rappers, producers and DJs that helped to build the tradition remain largely invisible. This, coupled with Hurricane Katrina, in which countless members of the city’s creative communities lost their lives or were displaced, many of whom remain unable to return, has inspired a determination in many to help provide resources/further acknowledgment for artists and to add to the documentation/collection of hiphop and bounce oral histories. This stuff is important, even if you don’t live in New Orleans or you don’t care about hiphop. It’s musical and cultural past, present, and future.