Earlier this year on February 23rd, bounce veteran Sissy Nobby posted a pretty jarring Youtube video that he was quitting the bounce game due to a conflated mix of young backstabbers, lovers and a general creative lull in his work. He announced to his internet fanbase that he was privatizing all his videos, which have over 6,460,500 views, as well as deleting his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He explained his discouragement further:
“I love all my fans. No one understands what I’m going through, it’s just me – it all started by me and I got messed over by managers…I got messed over by everyone. Fuck this game. Fuck everything. I hate this fucking life.”
I’m happy to say that he hasn’t done any of this. I was worried, I’ll be straight up with ya, that Nobby was gone and heading into some dark bayou abyss. Losing New Orleans’ most prolific artist is the last thing the bounce game needs, especially after the horrific shooting deaths of the legendary Magnolia Shorty and comedian/MC Messy Mya in late 2010. His latest 15-song release Suicidal Bounce references this dark period, but shows that Sissy Nobby cut those demons out of his life and is further developing a solo-sound shaped by modern R&B hooks, classic bounce riddims, and Sony Acid production techniques that position him as the most DIY cat in the game.
Most bounce artists in the Crescent City rely on epic DJ/producer Blaq and Mild, as well as some up-and-comers like Showboy CJ and J-Dogg, to churn out their club bangers. Nobby, whose given name is Terrell Gallo, does everything his own damn self and shows more lyrical and productive innovation with each new release. On Suicidal Bounce, he covers themes previously explored in his work, like tales of hoes trying to impede on his sex life and how much hotter he is than others, all re-tightened with new formulas for constructing bounce hits that make the whole club shake.
Gallo maintains the organic “it all started by me” aspects of not only his audio and video production, but his promotion, marketing and distribution as well. When I taught at a charter school in New Orleans, I had gotten in touch with Nobby’s “manager” via Myspace (remember Myspace??) to see if he could wish my students a Merry Christmas over the phone—and he happily obliged. His number went straight to Nobby’s phone.. For the record, my students went nuts when he called, and were all like, “How u know about Nobby, Mr. Mason???”
The first single “Tha Factz” tells you straight up about dick, some divine phallus from the Calliope housing projects that drove Nobby to reflect long and hard: “He’s too big / he’s too wide / he out that Calliope / and he’s circumcised.” Sexual themes dominate his work and it helps to have a little vocabulary lesson to totally feel it. Take a look at this gem: I’m feelin some kinda way/ I’m in the mood for a Magnolia trade / She feelin’ some kinda way/ she in the mood for a Calliope trade. Bounce is one of the most unique forms of music as it functions as a medium to map out space by referencing different neighborhoods and projects in each song. Although the Magnolia and Calliope are only about a mile from each other (3 mins on Google maps!), they connote way different things in term of identity and style.
Traditionally “trade” has been a term used (mostly) by the African-American gay community in New Orleans to refer to a straight-appearing gay/bi male– one who likely does not reciprocate sexual favors. His use of “She” in there applies as well because, in some rare turn, “trade” has been appropriated by women in New Orleans from the gay community to refer to a well put-together and certified hot boy. These are sexually nebulous designations, which seem to be more prevalent in New Orleans, I think, than any other city I’ve been to or lived in. Style, preference, and gender seem to be more experimental there that the affixed term of “sissy bounce” does not really capture. And Nobby uses this space as lyrical fodder.
On “Really,” Nobby confronts these issues of creepin’ without borders by keeping them hoes in check. He tells them straight: While you hoes trying to get my trade / he wit me in my house, in my bed while we lay/ listen carefully, bitch, to the words I say / stay away from my boy or my gun will spray. A fair warning to the haters, who are most likely in the audience, to let them know that they are just a part of his man’s past and Nobby’s “Bonny and Clyde” got no time for their jealous asses. “Really” is layered over a version of Sade’s “Love is Stronger Than Pride” and is more lyrical and less chopped than the other jams on the CD, making it Nobby’s summer R&B hit.
R&B samples have always played a huge role in bounce (from DJ Poppa’s throwback rework of Dennis Edward’s “Don’t Look Any Further” and more recently Fly Boy Keno’s remix of Lloyd’s “Lay It Down”), but Nobby poaches from more recent and obscure R&B hits, including Tamia’s “Officially Missing You” and Miguel’s recent #1 single “Sure Thing,” to take a whole new direction in bounce composition. For “Sure Thing Mixx,” he provides the rhythmic foundation for the song through one of the core bounce riddims from Derek B’s “Rock the Beat,” placed over the entirety of Miguel’s hit. On top of that, he punches in slightly slowed-down vocal samples of Magnolia Shorty’s trademark calls and his own trademark “Sissy Nobby and I’m on your mind!” over the non-vocal parts. These mixes are pretty standard in the New Orleans club scene, but Nobby shapes them to create a new style of R&B-infused bounce that
that show a level of maturity largely unseen in other bounce producers and DJs are still trying to sharpen. Consider him alongside R. Stevie Moore and Dam-Funk in terms of production and DIY aesthetics than other producer/MCs.
The newer videos advertising his blowout July 4th birthday party show a slimmer Sissy with a more positive outlook for his career. Suicidal Bounce listens like an album, so the stand-alone tracks here are somewhat removed from the overall context of the record. Still, they show that Nobby is taking the game in a whole new direction. “Support Your Sissy,” as he says, and break bread by buying his CD over at CDBaby.
GUEST POST BY WVUM’S KEVIN F. MASON (TALL JAMAL)