Queer Rappers of New Orleans

image via colorlines.com

Who says I can’t combine queer culture, New Orleans, and music to create a viable academic paper topic? I’ve decided to start working on an ethnographic project related to Sissy Bounce.  I put my first thoughts down in an attempt at a prospectus topic yesterday. We’ll see how it goes.

Sissy Bounce, a cultural phenomenon out of New Orleans, is a subgenre of Bounce music, which can be categorized as local (New Orleanian) hip-hop. This term refers to the hypersexual androgynous musical artists that perform it.  These black biologically male artists commonly refer to themselves as queer and/or transgendered. They often perform in both gay clubs and the roughest underground clubs in the city, targeting an audience so diverse as to include white gay men, all women regardless of race, class, or sexual orientation, and heterosexual black men.

The heterosexual black men who attend these shows are also breaching roles of both gender and class to embrace this subgenre of queer performing artists and their music known as Sissy Bounce.  Sissy Bounce performers, such as Big Freedia and Sissy Nobby, are redefining the concept of gay and mixed musical venues, and slashing the boundaries of gender, race, class, and sexual orientation.  It is no longer eye-popping to see a queer rapper performing at a sports bar in a rough neighborhood, or an upper class club that caters to gay white men. (See boingboing.com’s article)

Therefore, this study involves the investigation of two questions.  How are these artists breaching gender norms of the global hip-hop community, and how does the New Orleans community respond to this genre and the artists involved?

This study would be largely ethnographic, so methods of data collection include both structured and unstructured interviews, participant observation, and the reviewing of regional literature. I have several friends who are close with these artists, and several others who are fans (covering all demographics). Recently, several articles have been published on the topic.

I can’t imagine showing a Sissy Bounce video at an ethno conference. While it would be a lot of fun, it might incite some looks, strokes, or… <insert something here>.

6 comments

  1. You should totally do it. A speaker at conference I attended showed a bit from Margaret Cho’s act. At first people were kind of shocked, but once a few got laughing everybody started. Best paper ever!

    1. I’m definitely considering it! I think the paper would turn out great. I’m sure I can think of something so I don’t have to show half-naked booty dancers… or that I could in an *ahem* tasteful (or at least humorous) way :)

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