Katey Red is the unlikely godmother of bounce music. Katey, a trans rapper who stands over six feet tall and has a penchant for miniskirts, got her start in bounce in the late ’90s, as she explains in this Avant/Garde Diaries video, which itself is rooted in the beat of bounce. “I gets up, I start beating on the wall. I started saying stuff. … And I just let it rip. I ain’t never stopped.”
Like so many other American cultural symbols — jambalaya, jazz, voodoo — bounce is a uniquely New Orleans creation. A strain of Southern rap, it uses a throbbing beat distilled from a 1986 song and the vocal styling of Mardi Gras call-and-response. It’s raw and infectious.
Katey first entered the scene when she rapped at a party near the housing project where she grew up; people were blown away. She quickly became a local hero, and in the years since, she’s helped dozens of artists make their way, starting a crew of young bounce rappers and dancers. Some of those artists have left for other places, but Katey sticks in and with her hometown. “This your hometown music,” she told The Avant/Garde Diaries. “We try to bring New Orleans out there as much as we can. If you don’t have your hometown supporting you, that’s not nothing.”