New Orleans publisher Garrett County Press recently released The Definition of Bounce: Between Ups and Downs in New Orleans, a personal history of bounce music as told by 10th Ward Buck.
Buck is the mastermind behind bounce jams such as “Buck Hop,” “Make It Jump,” and “Drop and Gimme 50”; he promoted bounce shows in the 1990s at the Airline Skate Center that consistently drew close to 2,000 people; he played a role alongside Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking; and he has his own chicken shop on Jackson Avenue, Finger Lick’n Wings.
The Definition of Bounce includes first-person anecdotes and commentary from Buck and Lucky Johnson, CEO of Biggface Muzik and co-owner of Finger Lick’n Wings, with contribution from New Orleans music journalism staple Alison Fensterstock. It also features “A Not at All Complete Account of Significant Occurrences in New Orleans Rap” in the form of a timeline that spans 1984 – 2010, and nearly 200 photos, most of which are pretty amazing.
Excerpt: The Definition of Bounce by 10th Ward Buck
I was born to bounce music. As soon as I was able to hear music, it was bounce music. I was in St. Thomas. Growing up, we had T.T. Tucker and all those people. It was a long time ago, a long, long time ago. But I remember this one time, I was about eight years old, and I was looking out my back window. At that time I wasn’t going outside like that. It was a big block party, and oh, man, it was big, right out on the back. All I could see was T.T. Tucker holding the mike: “Boot up, boot up, boot up,” and I’m like, oh, it’s rolling over there. So my first big party that I ever saw was that block party out my back window. And as I grew and I got older, I started going outside. Because I was young. My buddies and them would go outside, but I wasn’t that type to be outside like that. But I was young the first time I heard bounce. That’s what I was raised on, was bounce. My mom listened to a lot of oldie-but-goodies, and that’s why I listened to that also, but what I listened to was bounce. It goes back to a long, long time ago. I don’t even remember the first time I heard it.
I grew up Uptown, in the St. Thomas Housing Project, in the Irish Channel, Garden District. Actually, it made life better for me when they tore down the St. Thomas, because I wanted the change anyway. I was 20. When I graduated from Fortier, going back and forth from the project, I was one of the ones that wanted the change. I saw what the project was doing, and how people were getting killed, and that was nothing I wanted. Some people were going to be mad because that was their life, that was what they did. But to me, it was better. I mean, we’re back. It’s not bricks now, but it’s still the St. Thomas community. It’s the house. You have that feeling of ownership now. You have the feel of a home instead of a project, instead of going in a dark hallway late at night where someone peed. It’s changed, it’s for the better. I feel good about it. I miss it, but I feel good that it changed. Everything can’t stay – some people don’t want to change. They’re not used to change. But I think if you adjust, then you’ll be good. I’m pretty sure everybody’s mad about what happened, but I’m pretty sure also that their lives are better.
The only mistake they did was they mixed up the projects. When they tore down the St. Thomas, they moved us into the St. Bernard. They moved some of them into the Calliope—that was bad. They shouldn’t have done that. They should have had another plan. Because when they mixed us with another community like that, that’s when the murders just shot through the roof. My family, we’re well connected so we didn’t even go into a project. We went right across Jackson to Annunciation Street.
Growing up, basically, we called the St. Thomas party city, the party town. We were different than the other hoods, the other projects, because we had parties all the time, we had DJs all the time. And DJ Jubilee was that DJ. Every week, every Sunday, you could count on a party going on somewhere, if it was a house party, block party, whatever. Jubilee was the DJ DJing. I noticed him addressing the crowd and when he said something, the crowd did it. And it was big crowd participation. So I’m like, “Oh, that’s unique, I want to do that.” But I was mainly inside. I was doing sports activities. I was marching in the band and stuff like that. With marching in the band I had to make a sacrifice: either go to the block party or go to after-school band rehearsal. I played the trumpet. My first year at Green, when I went to my middle school, for some reason I just wanted to be in the band and the trumpet kept calling me. I’m not even sure how I played the trumpet of all things, but I wound up playing the trumpet and that just gave me the love and the feel to be in the band. I loved the Mardi Gras atmosphere and stuff like that. I just went to getting into different bands, and Fortier was right down the street. I said, “I’m going to Fortier,” because I used to like how they came down the street with the flags and the blue uniforms. Blue was my favorite color, so I was like, “I’m going to Fortier!”
Excerpted from The Definition of Bounce: Between Ups and Downs in New Orleans by 10th Ward Buck. Copyright © 2011 by 10th Ward Buck. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Garrett County Press.