Till We All Gone; How Life Is
MetadataShow full item record
The greater Baton Rouge, La. area is one of the richest and most soulful wells of rap talent in the country and a bastion of local hip-hop infrastructure in the South. Bootleg CD salesmen stand outside seafood shacks hawking the newest mixtapes by rising local stars, 16-year-old artists become parish-wide sensations within a matter of months, and strip clubs rule the night with music from surrounding neighborhoods. Inspired to carry the spirit of Alan Lomax’s pioneering folk song recording expeditions into the present-day, I chronicled the vibrant scene in Baton Rouge proper and its rural hinterlands -- small towns like Clinton, Jackson, and Saint Gabriel, where tightly-knit groups of artists make music in relative isolation. I tried to provide an intimate but far-reaching view of a long-ignored culture that possesses an astounding vitality and a sense of social urgency. The result was two-fold: a sweeping photo essay (“How Life Is”) covering numerous locations in and around Baton Rouge, and a film (“Till We All Gone”) honing in on the town of Clinton (population: 1,653) and a small group of rural romanticists there. Many of the rappers I met who show up in the photo essay and film view their art as their main vessel to honestly express themselves and process their day-to-day reality. There is a strong emphasis on using raps to tell the truth in an autobiographical sense. A mix CD will be flecked with blues cadences, mournful dirges, and transcendent club anthems. An unusual emotional range emerges, encapsulating love, loss, and the space in between.