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This post is the second installment of a two-part series on New Orleans Bounce music. Click here to read part one, “Bounce 101: Introduction to Bounce”.
“Man, forget going to the club to meet someone new! When I wanna meet someone new I go get me a basket, and I go walk around Walmart. All the women be in Walmart, ya heard?!”
More unforgettable words have never been spoken. And these 36 words from Mr. Ghetto’s “Walmart” are only the beginning of the most mind-boggling and booty-shaking four minutes and twenty-two seconds of video that you will ever—ever—see.
Let me ask you a question: What do you do when you go to Walmart? Do you buy vegetables? Bread? Maybe some other household necessities such as toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, and the like? For most of us, the process of going to Walmart probably involves going in, making groceries, and coming right back out as soon as humanly possible (because who wants to spend their whole Saturday standing in line at Walmart?).
But not Mr. Ghetto!
Mr. Ghetto’s infatuation with the experience of going to Walmart brought him a level of fame—or rather, infamy—that I’m sure nobody shooting a homemade video with a handicam expects to receive. As a result of his love for boyshort-clad women who like to make their groceries in Walmart, Mr. Ghetto attracted a worldwide audience. I had friends up in the northeast calling me and asking if I’ve been to that Walmart (for the record, I’ve shopped at that particular Walmart many times before). Heck, I met people from Spain that said they had seen the video.
I’m not entirely sure that it was Mr. Ghetto’s intention to reach such a high level of internet fame, and it probably came as a huge surprise to him when the video garnered 1.2 million views in the first week alone. But that said, it’s kind of hard not to make a scene when you bring two boyshort-clad dancers in sports bras into your local grocery store and then shoot video of them (I always wonder how long they stayed in there filming for) gyrating furiously at a velocity that rivals the speed of light.
After the release of Mr. Ghetto’s “Walmart,” it didn’t take long before the rest of the country knew what bounce music was. In an interview with NOLA Defender, a blog centered on New Orleans culture, Mr. Ghetto said, “Bounce, you know, they don’t consider it mainstream. But after this song right here, this is mainstream. It don’t get more mainstream this. So, hopefully, this is going to change the game.”
Mr. Ghetto was right; bounce certainly did go mainstream after this. However, it’s hard to say whether the people who saw the video necessarily thought of Bounce as being a legitimate form of music after having viewed the video. Youtube reactions were mixed: while some people thought it was hilarious, sharing it with their friends and undoubtedly having themselves a good laugh over the Shake Team’s impressive dance moves, others responded negatively, admonishing Mr. Ghetto for the video’s explicit content and distaste. Unfortunately, neither of these are the reactions that you want when trying to get people to take your music seriously. Even more unfortunate is that some people came to view New Orleans itself in a negative light after seeing “Walmart.”
Luckily for Bounce music’s reputation, some serious damage control came in the form of Diplo and Nicky da B.
“Express Yourself,” featuring New Orleans Bounce artist Nicky da B, comes off of Philly-based DJ and producer Diplo’s latest EP of the same name. After attending one of the many Bounce showcases in New Orleans, Diplo reportedly liked what he saw and began hanging around with the Bounce big-names in an effort to get to know the Bounce music and culture better.
His efforts, in my opinion, clearly paid off in “Express Yourself.” Due to the nature of Bounce—any genre that puts an emphasis on “booty-clapping” is bounce to be a bit raunchy and hypersexual—it can easily come off as distasteful to those who haven’t experienced it before. And, though I mean no disrespect to Mr. Ghetto or his music, getting people outside of the New Orleans area to understand Bounce needed more than a haphazard video shot in the lingerie section of Walmart.
Diplo and Nicky da B’s collaboration, in addition to being better thought-out than Mr. Ghetto’s video, is also much more well-balanced. “Express Yourself” contains many of the same elements of “Walmart”—the fast beats, the repetition, the booty-clapping, and the boyshorts (or “boyshawts” as New Orleanians so lovingly call them).
However, “Express Yourself” is a lot more lively, colorful (literally – the sweater Nicky wears in the video probably includes nearly every color of the rainbow) and upbeat, reflecting some of the qualities that I think make New Orleans so unique. The video is shot on-location in New Orleans at a variety of local landmarks, a great way to include elements of the city’s culture. Additionally, the song itself is a lot more melodically playful than other Bounce tunes, and it can’t hurt that it was produced by a world-renowned DJ.
The things that “Express Yourself” does work because they help to tone down what otherwise might be another risqué Bounce video. The dancers are better-clothes and the message better-said (because, honestly, who doesn’t want to express themselves?!). Diplo and Nicky da B’s collaboration is seriously fun, with emphasis on the serious. Because of songs like theirs, people now know that Bounce means business.
There are obviously a lot of other players in the Bounce game that helped to take the genre to where it is today. However much longer the full account of it’s history may be, I hope that you enjoyed this abridged introduction to this fun and truly unique style of music. If you’re interested in seeing live Bounce, don’t forget to check out Nicky da B open for Tilly and the Wall at Brighton Music Hall in October (tickets can be found here).