Editor’s Note: ViaNolaVie, Krewe Magazine, and Bard Early College New Orleans partnered together in an effort to bring voices of the youth into the journalistic realm. Under the guidance of professors Kelley Crawford (Bard Early College and Tulane University) and Michael Luke (Tulane University), a composition course was manifested where students write non-fiction, New Orleans-based pieces, resulting in a printed publication (Krewe magazine) designed and published by Southern Letterpress. We will be publishing each student’s piece that was chosen for the magazine.
New Orleans is a rich cultured city whose diversity and cohesiveness cannot be paralleled. The “Big Easy” is often seen as its own state due to our lack of interaction with neighboring cities. New Orleanians have their own slang and culture that are not shared by any neighboring Louisiana city. Baton Rouge is the capital of the famed state, Louisiana; yet New Orleans is the main tourist attraction.
With all this being said, looking from the outside, New Orleans is not accurately represented to the rest of America. The reason for this is often because the messengers are not from New Orleans themselves. These are often why Orleanians are harassed when they leave the city. (Speaking as a New Orleanian, I can not tell you how many times I have been asked to pronounce certain southern slang.)
Now, let’s get to music (you know, what New Orleans is known for) and the city’s representation. But I’m not going to talk about Jazz; I’m going to talk about rap.
New Orleans is often used as a backdrop for most modern rappers to show their gangster type of image. All this does for our city is bring us down and makes us look like a truly violent city. This is seen from rappers like NBA Youngboy, G Herbo, and even foreign rappers like Drake. One thing all these rappers have in common is they are not from Louisiana but constantly mentions The Big Easy or use the city in their video. The closest rapper out of the three is NBA Youngboy, who is from Baton Rouge (often referred to as B.R.)
Kentrell Gaulden, who goes under the alias NBA Youngboy, rings a bell to most Louisiana residents. He is known for numerous of things both good and bad. He is mostly known for his numerous billboard hits like “38 Baby,” “Genie,” and “Diamond Teeth Samurai.” To some people, he is also seen as a delinquent menace for his numerous run-ins with the law — mainly his 2018 battery and kidnap case of his ex-girlfriend Jania Jackson.
Often in his videos, he glorifies his hometown of Baton Rouge and shows him living a happy life making his town look good. He did this early in his career with the entire state, but once his fame was solidified he started to bring out the worst of neighboring cities like New Orleans. In his video for “Diamond Teeth Samurai,” one of his edgier pieces that reflects his gang-like lifestyle, was shot in the seventh ward of New Orleans. All this looks like as an outsider is an invitation to more violence and just brings out the worst in the city.
XXL Magazine described this video with the sentence, “YoungBoy Never Broke Again brings the hood out in Diamond Teeth Samurai video.” The “hood” they are referencing is New Orleans. No city is perfect; they all have their ups & downs, but artist could at least try to talk good about New Orleans. Those types of things have a negative toll. It puts a social pressure, mainly on young African American boys who fall victim to the prison system or worse, to uphold this “hood” image.
This happens quite often in the music industry. New Orleans is often viewed as a natural go-to place to network with since we are one of the most influential cities in the nation. You often see famous Chicago rapper G Herbo with local rapper Neno Calvin throughout the city. He is quite respected throughout the city by the young culture due to his deep ties to the city, and he often talks highly of his affiliates from New Orleans in his songs.
New Orleans needs more celebrities who are going to praise all the good things the city has to offer. We often talk about cities like Atlanta, where artists constantly praise each other and uplift each other. New Orleans has enough talent to surpass popular cities in every way. We need more people like the Jacksonville Jaguars and starting running back Leonard Fournette (Fournette grew up in the Seventh Ward and attended the nationally acclaimed all boys school St. Augustine High School.). All he does is praise this city and talks so highly of us — just as a native should do. In a sense, he is fighting all these negative stereotypes. That is why he is so welcomed by the city.
New Orleans is extremely diverse. We are not perfect, but that is what makes us so special. We are a family and are together as one. So now, let’s put that in our songs.