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Sonic South

Mémwa Nwa

Agency, Sound, and Women in AfroCreole Louisiana Folk Music

by Denise Frazier, Sultana Isham

In Pulitzer Prize–winning poet and writer Natasha Trethewey’s Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir, Trethewey writes poignantly of her reaction to Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain album cover while remembering the brutal murder of her mother at the hands of an ex-husband. “So this stays with me: a woman with an afro like the one my mother wore in the early 1970s, buried up to her neck in the dirt, head flung back, her mouth wide open in what looks to be a scream of agony,” she writes. “Her thoughts—everything I couldn’t know—locked in her head until she began to unleash them in the last words she wrote, and in that final scream, before her death, would render her as bone white, as beyond help, as the woman’s head on the album’s flip side.” The personal heartache of remembering brutality, as seen in Trethewey’s memoir, as well as in Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped, and, earlier, in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, illustrates how women have navigated and continue to endure the economic, social, and colonial imaginaries of the Gulf South. How do we exhume the stories and narratives that are “locked” away, as Tretheway poignantly indicates? Despite the challenges inherent in recovering memory, there is value in how African-descended women were and are remembered and revered, especially during historical periods of enslavement, when African-descended bodies, spirits, and general humanity were most compromised.1

Historian Jessica Marie Johnson notes the difficulty of revealing the stories of enslaved women of African descent, observing, “Black communities remember each other, in family whispers, at altars, and at communion. Bound by archives, historians may scrape dusty folios for sources, may question whether women and girls will appear or worry that when they do appear, they emerge as legends, myths, and motifs representing more than themselves.” In these narratives, African American women–and their struggles–embody the myriad of challenges related to sexuality, gender, and race in antebellum life.2

Music is another way for African descended communities to “remember each other” and recount legendary tales of migrations, bravery, and love in the hearts and minds of their descendants. Folk music, in particular, is one genre in which scholars and communities call up systems of oppression and the forces that keep people of African descent alive. There is little question of the authorship of many Negro spirituals, but the authorship of folk songs remains debatable. This mystery has, subsequently, affected how people of African descent articulate and recover their own narratives of love and survival and history. Many scholars have dismissed the possibility of enslaved Africans as the authors of antebellum songs, denying the “negro mind” the emotional intelligence to, among other things, mourn loved ones. Even postcolonial theoretical models of colonial literature often assume that white publishers were also the authors of memoirs of the enslaved. This has, in turn, genred the subordinate culture in a role of mimicry. Sound is a portal to blood memories of the forgotten, and the ones who were in bondage used the power of sound and text to illustrate their experiences of loss and love. Mémwa Nwa (Black Memory) traces how themes of love and memory in AfroCreole music by modern Louisiana composers and musicians rearticulate and reaffirm the sociopolitical and historical condition and context in which they were created. This generated a practice of performative resistance to the forgotten memory of AfroCreole sonic contributions in the nineteenth century.

How do we remember through sound and composition? How do arrangements, lyrics, and use of technology contribute to a greater sense of agency and resistance in how love and gender in AfroCreole music is remembered and performed? To answer these questions, Mémwa Nwa delves more deeply into the AfroCreole Louisiana folk songs “Marie Mouri” and “Lizette, To Quitté La Plaine.” Through a lyrical and compositional analysis of these two songs, Mémwa Nwa seeks to reify the importance of modernized sonic forms, performance, and composition. Here, we analyze Black identity formation across time and musical genres from the colonial period to a more immersive contemporary techno-sphere, where agency is rooted in gender complexity, varied instrumentation, rhythmic patterns, and classic/modern sound. Literary and cultural performance scholar Daphne Brooks asserts the fertile cultural production of African Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as representative of a greater act of creative agency. As she puts it, “Wedding social estrangement with aesthetic experimentalism and political marginalization with cultural innovation, these resourceful cultural workers envisioned a way to transform the uncertainties of (black) self-knowledge directly into literal and figurative acts of self-affirmation.” Mémwa Nwa mends the bridge between antebellum performance, reimagined in the twentieth century, and assertive black identity formation in the twenty-first century by analyzing narratives of love, gender fluidity, and composition. The song “Marie Mouri,” in its composition and varied arrangements, articulates the patchwork quilt of memory, agency, and race in its authorship and in the contemporary rendering by Louisiana ensemble Les Cenelles.3

Left to right: Sultana Isham, free feral, Peter J Bowling, Denise Frazier, mun, and Joseph Darensbourg. Photo by Michael Santiago Cintron.

Marie Mouri: The “Creolizing” Narrative, Sonic Memory, and African-descended Women

There is very little known about this beautiful and melancholic tribute to “Marie,” a woman who died during the nineteenth century. Authorship is ascribed to an enslaved poet named Pierre from Martinville, Louisiana, who wrote five poems that were later published in the book Louisiana Creole Dialect, by James Broussard. In the “Folklore” chapter of Louisiana Creole Dialect, Broussard transcribes proverbs, poems, medical formulas, and folklore tales from St. Martinville, Louisiana. Pierre wrote “Marie Mouri” before the Civil War. And according to Broussard, “The manuscript came into my possession many years ago through one of my students who reported that the author’s name was Pierre. The tradition was that he was a negro of exceptional ability who was used in the plantation commissary. The impression was that he had learned to read and write ‘in a mysterious way.’ The manuscripts were found among his meager possessions after his death together with his young master’s primary grade textbooks.” Broussard died in 1942, the same year Louisiana Creole Dialect was published, and further research on the story of Pierre, or the students who found his poems is unknown. More than sixty years later, in an effort to revive Louisiana Creole, Cajun fiddler and composer David Greely recovered Pierre’s text from Broussard.4

David Greely and the Mamou Playboys recorded three of Pierre’s poems on their album Dominos (2005). Greely, born in Baton Rouge, cites that his Cajun and Irish roots led him to research different genres of what he calls “swamp syncopation.” He later mentions the importance of “cane-field blues and yearning waltzes” as “melding his ancestral legacy” and telling the stories of people who “kept this music and language alive.” There is another version of “Marie Mouri,” by Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy, from their album Adieu False Heart (2006). Both versions remain faithful to the Cajun waltz genre, with a string-forward introduction, a chorus, a mournful melody, and, in the case of the Ronstadt and Savoy version, harmonies that beautifully lilt and slope downward at the end of lyrical lines.

How do we re-member our loved ones who have passed, assemble the sounds of spirits whose feet pressed land with steady rhythms and whose voices held the tonal qualities and melodies of centuries old ancestral pain, joy, love, and care? Joseph Darensbourg, a Creole musician of mixed ancestry and co-founder of the contemporary musical ensemble Les Cenelles, wanted to sing a song that honored his deceased grandmother named Marie. He discovered Greely’s rendition and approached musician and sound artist Peter J. Bowling about creating a new version of the song. Bowling and Darensbourg later presented the song at a Les Cenelles rehearsal, and the sound that the majority African-descended ensemble unearthed was a version rooted in the folk Cajun tradition but with a classical/jazz influence. Les Cenelles’ version of “Marie Mouri” exhumes the Black feminine narrative by inviting the audience to identify with and embody the spirit of the departed Marie.

The incorporation of technology and sound engineering, coupled with instruments that comprised a wider diversity of tonal qualities—piano, saxophone, violins, viola, cello, a soprano, and a tenor—pushed the piece beyond traditional Cajun fiddle music long performed by white-presenting musicians. The string instruments used a pick-up that fed into the sound interface, transforming the crispy timber of horsehair on steel-encased strings to airy, pulsating and humming that conjured the buzzing of flies. The waltz turned into a funeral dirge with elongated pauses. And the ghostly computerized sound of the technological interface called up the untold story of Black feminine geographies present in our earth, water, and air. “To pas connais n’a p’us Marie (Didn’t you know Marie is no longer here)” hints at the invisibility of African-descended female labor and unmarked graves.

Marie is lovingly laid to rest toward the end of the song. The technology stops completely as the two vocalists, Joseph Darensbourg and free feral, somberly and softly repeat “Marie mouri,” while Diane Ashby’s saxophone sweetly purrs. Composer Courtney Bryan’s piano solo raises the sonic vibration of this mournful dirge and lifts Marie’s soul to its eternal and most peaceful rest as the string instruments pluck with a steady rhythm. The ghostly, ethereal technology enters again at the very end of the song in the hollowed, bee-swarm buzz of the saxophone, resonating with the sound of spirits who dare to speak from the depths within. Their memory will hang in the air like a cloud of gnats; a chill in the dead of summer to remind us of the dis-ease that has permeated our colonial existence and ecology. Similar to Greely’s intentions, the musicians and composers of Les Cenelles, an ensemble that mixes sounds from the African diaspora with classical instrumentation and technology, sought to create music that would help the listener time travel through the Gulf South. Much of their music is grounded in the telling of ecological stories from the past and present, and imagining and combining sounds of the African diaspora, its influences, and migrations.

Enba: Sonic Memorials, Toxic Land, and Unmarked Graves

The historic legacy of extractive economies, like plantation slavery, are embedded in the poisoning of land and African-descended people along Louisiana’s toxic Petrochemical Corridor. Popularly known as Cancer Alley, the 85-mile stretch of land between New Orleans and Baton Rouge contains more than one hundred petrochemical plants. Les Cenelles creates music that speaks to the ecological realities of African-descended communities along the Corridor, including Gordon Plaza in New Orleans, and Mossville and the entire St. James Parish in St. James, Louisiana. In 2019, the ensemble partnered with New Orleanian writer and arts worker Lydia Y. Nichols to produce a song that could tell the story of Mossville, Louisiana, a town that symbolically represents the generational damage of the petrochemical and plastics industry, along with all the extractive economies in the Gulf South region.5

Mossville, a former maroon community in the nineteenth-century, is located on the outskirts of Lake Charles, Louisiana. It was slowly displaced and poisoned by the South African chemical plant Sasol—a synthetic oil company that supported the apartheid government. Sasol has resurfaced and deforested the land, contaminated estuaries, poisoned and killed many people from the Mossville community, and displaced generations of people of African descent.

Mossville is not the only community in Louisiana that has experienced this level of environmental racism and trauma. A repeated chant in Les Cenelles’s music is “Enba Hey!” “Enba” means “below” in Kouri Vini (Louisiana Creole), and the evocation of the word is a reminder of ancestral legacy, the people whose bodies are “below,” buried next to petrochemical plants or potential sites, as in the case of the Formosa site in St. James Parish. Deep within the core of this land, covered in centuries-old landfill trash, lie the carelessly tossed bodies that once held breath, heat, spirit, and light. Buried within our memories lies the trauma of the Trans-Atlantic enslavement of millions of Africans who, in bondage, arrived to the Americas to churn stolen lands into disaster-capitalist empires for Europe. Les Cenelles’s music explores the concept of ancestral reverence and enba through researching another site of environmental racism in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The soil beneath the city dump of Thibodaux houses the bones of African-descended sugar cane laborers who sought to strike against white vigilantes who murdered up to sixty workers in 1887. The event had largely been absent in the written record until the 2016 publication of The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike by journalist John DeSantis.”6

Forensic anthropologists and environmental researchers, such as Davette Gadison and New Orleanian scholar and environmentalist Imani Jacqueline Brown, uncover the topography of anthropogenic land use—plantations, cemeteries, city dumps, and petrochemical plants—to reveal forgotten mass graves and burial sites of African-descended people. Some of these graves are marked with a single tree, and others live on in the memory of the residents and families of the deceased. After interviewing Sharon Lavigne, one of the founders of Louisiana environmental activist organization RISE St. James, members of Les Cenelles learned about the Formosa Plastics chemical plant that was built on top of a grave site for people who were enslaved. Les Cenelles was invited to play at the 2021 Black History Month Essay contest held by RISE St. James and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and vocalist Joseph Darensbourg brought an offering to the ancestors of the unmarked graves. The ensemble later composed a song based on Lavigne’s call to activism and personal story, and continues to develop the concept of enba as a sonic reminder, a memory of our collective responsibility to keep the land safe and clean.7

Lisette: Memory of Migrations and Plantations

Historian Jessica Marie Johnson observes that “New Orleans was the site of one of the few concentrated streams of Senegambian forced migration, multiple slave rebellions, multiple white refugee migrations, a cosmopolitan slave and free population, and a cacophony of African and Afro-Atlantic expressive, material, and visual cultural activity.” “Until emancipation, she writes, “New Orleans hosted the busiest domestic slave market in the nation alongside the wealthiest, most literate, and according to one scholar, most radicalized free population of color in the United States.” This exceptional site of exchange was the backdrop to countless stories of forced migration, language loss and acquisition, religious practices, and creative acts of resistance.8

Camille Nickerson, a nineteenth century Louisiana composer, archived such stories, including an arrangement of an eighteenth-century tune, “Lisette Quitté La Plaine,” that follows a young woman who migrates from the plantation to the big city to work as a domestique. The rural to urban transition separates her from a loved one as a result. In her thesis on AfroCreole music and culture, Nickerson states, “‘Lizette, to Quitté La Plaine,’ in which the grief-stricken lover shares his grief in saying: ‘Ah, Lizette, since I heard of your leaving, my eyes have grown like fountains––I have cried so much. I have no smile now for anyone nor have I the heart to do the Bamboula. I can think of nothing but love.’ For you must know being denied all else had only love to look forward.”9

“Lisette’s” debatable origins are traced to a transcription by French-Caribbean enslaver Moreau de Saint-Méry in 1797, but is often attributed to white colonist Duvivier de la Mahautière in the same era. Nickerson, who founded the B-sharp music club in 1917, a group dedicated to celebrating Black art music, published five songs in 1942. In this collection, she composed a version of “Lisette” titled “Lizette, Ma Chêre Amie.”

Nickerson’s version differed from the colonists’ versions in melody and in text, but the story of migration from the plantation to the city and lost love remains the same. The perspective of “the lover” in the song is valued over that of Lizette’s point of view. Although the tune is typically sung by a woman, many scholars assume that the lover is male. But the sex of the speaker is not explicitly stated, and this ambiguity allows for people of any gender to memorialize loss and love, whether romantic or platonic. Furthering this idea of gender fluidity, not all arrangers of the song published it with a woman named “Lizette” in mind, including much earlier Louisiana arrangements by Henri Wehrmann and Clara Gottschalk Peterson. Gottschalk Peterson published Creole Songs from New Orleans in the Negro Dialect in 1902, forty years before Nickerson. In this publication, the tune is in honor of “Zélim.”10

Lisette is a feminine French Catholic name meaning “God’s promise.” Zélim, a masculine name likely derived from the Arabic “Salim,” is a name of negritude, highlighting the oft-forgotten Islamic presence during American chattel slavery. Many researchers disagree on the number of Muslims sent to the Americas, but scholar Richard Brent Turner estimates a range of 40,000 in the United States and 3 million across the Americas. In A History of Islam in America, Kambiz Ghanea Bassiri writes, “Conversion to Christianity was arguably the most widespread method by which African Muslims reconfigured their religious practices and beliefs to adapt to their new context and to form new communal relations.” There are no gendered pronouns in the text for Zélim but the song otherwise remains true to the theme of lovers being separated.

Les Cenelles’s “Lizette Suite” replaces the religious and linguistic migration of “Zélim / Lisette” from the plantation to the city with the forced migration of the African-descended Mossville community, an example of how plantations and chemical plants have shaped the Black experience in Louisiana. Both Nickerson’s “Lisette” and Les Cenelles’s “Lizette Suite” attempt to recover and liberate these stories from the buried memories of the past, excavating our loved ones’ stories and their ties to land through enslavement or marronage.

Li pas mandé fauteuil bourré, Li pas mandé jipon la soie. Li jist oulé gombo file! 

She does not want a cushion chair. She does not want silk underwear. With gumbo soup how happy she is!11

Resistance and Revelation of the Real

“To examine Black women’s literature effectively requires that we be seen as whole people in our actual complexities—as individuals, as women, as human—rather than as one of those problematic but familiar stereotypes provided in this society in place of genuine images of Black women.”

—Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex”

The rich, chocolate soil bathed in brackish Mississippi River water carries sediment that sinks city concrete, driving us further down and out to the Gulf, the place where rivers meet their end. As Toni Morrison observed, “All water has perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” Like literature, music serves to reassert a memory or solidify narratives that help us understand our origins, our ancestors, their lives, loves, trials, and deaths—when music performs memory, it evokes those who are enba. The forms and genres in which sound travels have a profound effect on our collective sense of history, on African-descended love and survival, and on how we choose to represent ourselves and our environments. Late-nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century recordings and compositions recovered, reproduced, and brought forward AfroCreolité, despite reductive and racist ideations of “rhythmic African music” versus “melodic European music.” History and compositional choices can only remain as true to a form as memory or political/social agendas permit. As Jessica Marie Johnson states, “The black femme freedoms that enslaved and free women of African descent cultivated, their practices and drink, often appear as null values, empty, blank spaces—except in the memory of black women in the city.” Much Louisiana AfroCreole music does the slow and deliberate work of holding the memory of stories that have etched the landscape and soundscapes of a uniquely complex environment. Here, the clues to a multiplicity and diversity of musical genres, sexualities, and sonic time travel reveal our environmental past, present, and what lies beyond and enba.13

Les Cenelles’ “Suzanne, Suzanne, Jolie Femme”14

Sultana Isham explores sound as biology through film composition and ethnomusicology. She is a composer and interdisciplinary fellow at The Sundance Institute and her recent film score, “The Neutral Ground,” earned her an IDA nomination for best score in 2021.Denise Frazier is an educator, gulf south researcher, musician, and theater worker. She is from Houston and has lived in Bulbancha for over 20 years and is proud to call it home. She currently works as assistant director at the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University.

Header Photo (left to right): Sultana Isham, free feral, mun, Joseph Darensbourg, Peter J Bowling, and Denise Frazier. Photo by Michael Santiago Cintron.Videos by Marion Hill.NOTES

  1. Natasha Trethewey, Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir (New York: Harper Collins, 2020)
  2. Jessica Marie Johnson, Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020).
  3. Daphne A. Brooks, Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom (Durham, NC: Duke University Press: 2006); “Les Cenelles” translates in English to holly berries. Holly berries were of various shades and would thrive in harsh conditions, a metaphor for the racial strife that was rampant in late-nineteenth-century New Orleans. The name was lovingly borrowed from and inspired by a nineteenth-century group of African-descended Louisiana Creole writers and poets. The present-day Les Cenelles musical ensemble borrowed the name from this group in solidarity with their sociopolitical and artistic influence and pride in prismatic and intersectional identities from Louisiana. The original Les Cenelles was formed by Armand Lanusse and as a collective they wrote and published the first anthology of poetry by free people of color in 1845. The anthology, written in French, comprises eighty-five poems by seventeen Creole Louisianians, and features romantic poems with subtle revolutionary coding. Because of the strict laws prohibiting publications that could incite a racial insurrection, these poets and composers used love and Gulf South flora and fauna as metaphors for nativity, love of place, and resistance to white supremacy. Many of the poets of Les Cenelles were mixed race and were afforded more education than other people of African descent at the time. Despite this, their poetry was not considered by the white Creole elite of the time.
  4. James Broussard, Louisiana Creole Dialect (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1942).
  5. Gordon Plaza is a subdivision in the Desire neighborhood of New Orleans. African-descended New Orleanians were encouraged to purchase housing in neighborhoods that were contaminated with arsenic, lead, and other carcinogens; Mossville is a small town outside of Lake Charles, Louisiana, founded in 1790 by Jack Moss, a formerly enslaved person. The South African petrochemical company Sasol built an ethane cracker complex for $8.1 billion that absorbed the small community, spewing carcinogens and sickening its residents, and ultimately forcing them to leave their ancestral lands; Lydia Y. Nichols provided the research and narration for the Les Cenelles arrangement of the “Lizette Suite.” free feral, Sultana Isham, and Peter J. Bowling interviewed Nichols and primarily composed and recorded the ensemble’s version of the suite, with the support of ensemble members Joseph Darensbourg, mun, and Denise Frazier.
  6. “Earth Beneath Dump Site Offers Clues to Racial Massacre,” Tulanian, September 2018.
  7. Alexandra Eaton, Christoph Koettl, Quincy G. Ledbetter, Victoria Simpson, and Aaron Byrd, “Searching for the Lost Graces of Louisiana’s Enslaved People,” New York Times, June 27, 2021,
  8.  Jessica Marie Johnson, Wicked Flesh, 226.
  9. Camille Nickerson, “Africo-Creole Music in Louisiana: A Thesis on the Plantation Songs Created by the Creole Negroes of Louisiana, Oberlin Conservatory of Music,” May 1832, 18.
  10. Nickerson,  “Africo-Creole Music in Louisiana,” 18; Clara Gottschalk Peterson, “Zélim to quitté la plaine,”
  11. Mina Monroe, lyrics from the song “Suzanne, Suzanne Jolie Femme,” in Bayou Ballads: Twelve Songs from Louisiana (New York: G. Schirmer, Inc., 1921).
  12. Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde (New York: Ten Speed Press, 1984), 118.
  13. Jessica Marie Johnson, Wicked Flesh, 230.
  14. “Suzanne” is described as a love song that traverses socioeconomic status and affirms Black desire, despite the clear perils, traumas, and boundaries in the colonial context. The description of the song in Mina Monroe’s Bayou Ballads: Twelve Folks-Songs From Louisiana de-centers Suzanne’s role in navigating the relationship and highlights the importance of the speaker in the song, a supposed masculine and African-descended voice who praises “the frugal tastes of his love [and] finds his lot more satisfying in its unbounded simplicity than that of the free white man with its complicated and inevitable demands.” This interpretation of the piece fits neatly into a heteronormative understanding and, perhaps, cliché view of the seductive mulâtresse whose value resides in her solidarity with men of African descent and her courage to eschew earthly pleasures for a more authentic and spiritual love. “Li pas mandé fauteuil bourré, Li pas mandé jipon la soie (She does not want a cushion chair. She does not want silk underwear).” The only thing in the song that makes Suzanne happy is gumbo. The speakers exclaim the following, “Li jist oulé gombo file! / With gumbo soup how happy she is!” Incorporating gastronomic pleasure as a possible metaphor for liberation through kinship and love of other possibly enslaved and/or free people of color, enforces the sense that what is “jolie” about Suzanne is her ability to revel in simple pleasure, and her courage in refusing to be further commodified and “bought” with possessions. This liberatory expression of black womanhood through the space and context of the antebellum labor conditions of nineteenth-century Louisiana melds perfectly with Les Cenelles’s overlay of bounce music at the end of their rendition of “Suzanne.” According to the Bayou Ballads description of the song, it was used as a plantation work song. Monroe states, “The melody of the song was thought particularly fitted to the task of sweeping, especially on summer mornings when the languid strokes of the broom lent themselves admirably to the musical lilt of its phrases. Scores of Southern courtyards have been swept to the tune of ‘Suzanne, Suzanne, jolie femme.’” Mixing the nineteenth-century lyrics of “Suzanne” with the infectious, unrelenting drum machine beat of Bounce music is one of the many fitting ways that work songs and werk songs call us to do their bidding. Whether sweeping or twerking, calling and responding, the objective of the sound was and is to keep everyone present and engaged with the task at hand; work and werk. The prominence of many queer New Orleans bounce artists and women bounce artists, like Cheeky Blakk, points to a possible reinterpretation of Les Cenelles’s “Suzanne” as transcending heteronormative boundaries. Whereas Monroe assumed the reader to be male, a re-reading of the lyrics indicates that the speaker could easily be Suzanne’s mother, or female lover. The incorporation of bounce music in the end opens the temporal limitations of African-descended kinship and sexuality and status to more complicated interpretations. Sound allows the listener to time travel, to question, and investigate more closely our own assumptions about the Gulf South colonial experience.In Ryan Clarke’s “Reverse Hallucinations in the Lower Delta,” he articulates the significance of bounce as a subversive genre that is rightly aligned with the human and robotic rhythmic pace with which we listen and live. He states, “Queerness, humanity, and technology, it’s all up in the air here. There are no boundaries between the thematic, the performer, and the identity that appears onstage or in the crowd. Already too fast for radio and its listenership, acceleration is inherent to bounce music as technology and humanity are in lockstep as a means to dismantle the limits of what we have previously perceived to be dance/southern rap or any kind of music at all.” The incorporation of bounce music with this particular song ushered in the queering and complicating of the heteronormative imagining of “Suzanne” as a “jolie femme” in full possession of her own understanding of happiness and pleasure and place. Bounce as a repetitive, sonic drum-induced trance music delightedly lulls the gyrating hips and butt cheeks to take respite in “catching a wall” or maybe sweeping a floor. The only mandate is that the ass-shaking must not stop, because your beautiful wiggly body is also who you are. You, alone, possess this corporal joy.
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