For more than three decades, hip hop and bounce music traditions in New Orleans have been central outlets for creativity, celebration, social critique, community gathering, and political and expressive art in the city. The indigenous New Orleans bounce music tradition, born at block parties, dance clubs, and other community gatherings, had until very recently been little heard outside the city. Since Hurricane Katrina, bounce has become a force of its own, gaining massive popularity and influence internationally via artists like Big Freedia, Katey Red and Nicky da B (1990-2014), though its roots go back well over two decades. Local artists, and particularly women, have played a large role in the origins and evolution of bounce and hip hop within the city. The stories of women rap artists Allie Baby, G Baby, and Ms. Tee, from the NOLA Hip Hop and Bounce Archive at the Amistad Research Center, highlight the contributions women have made or are making to bounce and hip hop in New Orleans.
Allie Baby grew up in New Orleans East and became obsessed with vinyl records at an early age. Her father’s music collection, which played a part in the development of her musical tastes, was often blasted in her house as a child. Allie Baby expressed gratitude to her father for introducing her to what she described as “pure music.” She rapped for the first time as a 7th grader at a school event. It was around this time that she also received the name Allie Baby. She recorded and wrote her first song at age 19 as a part of the female musical group, Black Iyce. The group was the start of Allie Baby’s career and they were signed to Dangerous State Records, an independent record label. The group toured with rap groups G-Unit and the 504 Boyz. She left Black Iyce after being with the group for four years. Lil Scrappy invited her to tour with him and she performed with him for 3 ½ years as a member of a group founded by him called G’s Up. Allie also carved out a career as an actress. She worked with the independent film company, Most Wanted Films, and landed roles in the movies “Da Block Party” and “Black Saturday” in 2003. In 2005, DJ Drama and the Aphilliates hosted her mixtape “Pre-Season,” and she worked with producer Drumma Boy, who produced her single “Yay.” In 2011, she performed at the NOLA Underground Hip Hop Awards with rapper 8 Ball. Allie Baby continues to work in the hip hop and entertainment industries.
G Baby started rapping at the age of 13 and grew up in Iberville Projects, a housing community in the 6th ward. As a child she performed in talent shows where she recited poetry. She was raised by her grandmother and they were displaced during Hurricane Katrina. They relocated to Houston during her teenage years. G Baby returned to New Orleans to be reunited with her mother. It was during this time that she began to pursue her rap career. G Baby’s most popular song “Get It Girl” is a remix of the 1989 song recorded by her late father, Warren Mayes. Her father’s musical legacy was another heavy influence upon her and it was important to her start in music. After her grandmother gave her the “greenlight” to use her father’s song, she worked with producer BlaqnMild to create a different version of the song. G Baby wanted to remix the song from a woman’s perspective and it took her a month to perfect it. She has become responsible with introducing the song and her father’s legacy to a new generation of New Orleans hip hop fans.
Ms. Tee grew up in Treme in her grandmother’s house, which was known in the area as “The Big House.” As an ode to her grandmother and the house she grew up in, Ms. Tee named her record company “Big House Entertainment.” Growing up, her mother played Anita Baker, Luther Vandross, and Earth, Wind, & Fire, and it sparked her interest in music. She had dreams of becoming a musician at the age of 5 and grew up singing in church choirs. Janet Jackson was the first woman artist to influence Ms. Tee and other women artists who inspired her included rappers Mia X and Females in Charge. She was introduced to the New Orleans music scene as a teenager through her travels with rap artist Cheeky Blakk. Ronald “Slim” Williams, a music executive, approached her after a performance with Cheeky Blakk when she was 14 and invited her to record with Cash Money Records. At the time, Cash Money Records was an up and coming local music company. Her first record was a feature on rap artist Pimp Daddy’s song “Get em up Nigga.” The song gained Ms. Tee a lot of attention among New Orleans hip hop fans. Her subsequent features with rap group UNLV and other rap artists led to her first solo album, “Having Thing$” being released with Cash Money Records in 1995. She recorded a second album in 1996 titled “Female Baller,” also released with Cash Money Records, and left the company two years later. Ms. Tee’s sales and popularity, along with other early Cash Money Records artists such as UNLV, helped pave the way for the company to sign its distribution deal with Universal Music Group in 1998 and ultimately become a national leader in the American hip hop scene.
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