Ratchet Movement in Shreveport by herche
June 4, 2007, 4:50 pm
Filed under: Movie, Music, Rap, Video

A new hurricane is making national debut
May 28, 2007

Director of photography David Claessen (left) films Chris Dooley, better known as rap artist Hurricane Chris, during a video shoot for the song “A Bay Bay,” which is gaining popularity in major cities in the United States. The video was shot in Cedar Grove. (Greg Pearson/The Times)

Say what?
Hurricane Chris is credited with introducing Shreveport’s ratchet music scene to the forefront in hip-hop music, but just what does ratchet mean? Hurricane Chris explains: “Ratchet is universal. It can mean a good thing or a bad thing,” he said.
The good:
“You can say ‘we were in the club and we were ratchet, we cut up.’ That’s the good ratchet, it means you had a good time.” Translation: “We were in the club and we had a good time,” he said. “It’s just you being you and doing what makes you comfortable.”
The not so good:
“There’s a different kind of ratchet that means wearing the same socks for five weeks or walking around outside, down the street barefoot. Or drinking out of a pickle jar. That’s the ratchet, too.”

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By Donecia Pea

The director stood by preparing for the next shot as the makeup stylist dabbed 18-year-old Chris Dooley’s face with a sponge.

Suddenly, the director yelled action and everything went into play. Bass-heavy music flowed through the speakers as Dooley, better known as Hurricane Chris, spit out a verse from his hit song “A Bay Bay,” his clear-beaded braids swinging from side to side.

The mostly youthful crowd, including hundreds of teens, children and young adults, some donning white T-shirts with “A Bay Bay” in big black letters on the front, stood in awe along the perimeter of the Cedar Grove gas station as they watched one of their own putting their neighborhood, their city, their voice on the map.

In a matter of months, the locally popular tune that started as a playful, infectious homage to K103 Tha Beat radio personality and club disc jockey, DJ Bay Bay, made it to radio stations and clubs in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and even New York City.

And last weekend, a production crew and staff from Atlanta and New York City spent two days in town filming a video for the song, scheduled to debut later this month on BET and MTV. The video depicts scenes from various Shreveport inner-city areas, including Dooley’s Cedar Grove neighborhood. The video shoot also includes scenes from local hip-hop club Kokopelli’s.

“We chose the locations based on what areas are usually hot. Those are hot spots that are usually packed,” Dooley said. “So we figured we’d just shoot it right there. Everyone is familiar with those spots.”

Some are expecting the video to be a huge deal for Shreveport.

“This is going to be one of Shreveport’s first national videos,” said Orville Hall, marketing director for Polo Grounds Records, a record label under the J Records label group (Alicia Keys, Gavin DeGraw, Aretha Franklin), which signed Hurricane Chris as their first artist four months ago.

Hurricane Chris is currently on a promotional tour across the country. Following the video, he said fans can expect another mix tape and a new album, executive produced by Mr. Collipark. No release date has been set yet.

The road less traveled

Dooley is living the dream that many local rappers and entertainers aspire to.

“It feels good to see what we got going on. I’m just taking the blessings as they come. I thank God and keep going,” he said.

However, even at age 18, Dooley is no overnight success. He remembers starting his rap career as early as age 8 or 9.

“I had other hits, they just never hit the mainstream and I never had a major distribution deal,” he said. Some of those hits included “Ya Hear Me” and “Yep.” “I had two whole mix tapes that were heavy through Louisiana and Texas. We’ve been underground for a long time.”

In fact, you could say rapping is in his blood. “My mom used to rap herself. So, with her not making it, she made sure I made it,” he said.

Chris also is part of Cedar Grove rap clique Lava House, known for local hip-hop anthem “Ratchet,” which was released in 1999, and “Ratchet Remix,” released in 2004, which featured Baton Rouge rapper Lil Boosie.

The song coined the term “ratchet,” which transformed into a hip-hop subgenre used to describe the hip-hop culture in the Shreveport area.

But it’s Dooley’s latest single, “A Bay Bay,” that industry heads are expecting to make Shreveport and ratchet music the next big thing in Southern rap and hip hop.

“Hip-hop is so stale right now and the only people that matter right now are veterans. It’s time for a new movement. … And I think the ratchet movement is a breath of fresh air,” said Mr. Collipark, who was on set for the video shoot along with her crew members and staff from Atlanta and New York City.

Collipark, also known as DJ Smurf, is an Atlanta deejay and producer best known for helping to shape the crunk music sound with hits like “Wait” by the rap duo Ying Yang Twins and “Ms. New Booty” by rapper Bubba Sparxxx. “Ratchet music is just a different aspect of hip-hop culture. … Just how we did with crunk music in ATL,” Collipark said.

It was Collipark who heard “A Bay Bay” on an Atlanta radio station and contacted New York City label head Bryan Leach, founder and president of Polo Grounds Records/J Records, who then signed Hurricane Chris.

Leach is the former vice president of Artist & Repertoire at TVT Records who signed multi-platinum hip-hop artists Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz and the Ying Yang Twins.

And he doesn’t expect Hurricane Chris’ impact on hip-hop music to be any less.

“I was trying to figure out the next thing to do and I got turned on to this. The ratchet movement is more than Hurricane Chris, he just serves as the guy to bring it out. It’s like Lil Jon with crunk music in Atlanta, Mike Jones with chopped and screwed music in Houston. … That’s what Hurricane Chris does for ratchet music in Shreveport,” Leach said.

A hometown hero

Virginia Coleman, 19, and her friend Simone Givens, 19, were riding around on a typical Saturday afternoon, looking for something fun to do when they spotted the crowd and production crew on East 79th Street.

“We were just riding around, being nosey,” Givens said jokingly.

Before long, they too joined the group and stood to the side as the crew filmed a scene of the crowd singing along to the song. “When the director yells ‘action,’ he wants you to clap your hands in the air and sing along,” yelled DJ Bay Bay on a microphone. “If you don’t know the words, you won’t be in the video.”

Some of the children giggled.

“It’s just fun and creative and gives young people like us something to do,” Coleman said. “I’m just loving the new celebrities,” Givens added.

True Clark, 23, of Cedar Grove, isn’t surprised by the attention his fellow resident is receiving. “He’s just repping for the city, putting the Grove on the map. I can believe it’s happening because I spoke it. It’s home of the ratchet, man,” Clark said.

Anthony “Ratchet King” Mandigo, another Cedar Grove resident and Lava House member, credited along with his partner Jiggy Jiles for founding ratchet music, agreed. “We just knew it was coming one day. We just didn’t know when,” he said as Jiles and another Lava House member Gleek Jiggy looked on.

Dooley said his family has especially been supportive. “I’ve been doing this for 10 years. They’ve been behind me since I started, so they’re just happy, like it’s about time,” he said. “Everybody’s been waiting on it.”

But Dooley’s humbled by the turnout of hometown support.

“It just makes me feel like the city is behind us,” he said. “I really didn’t know what to expect. I was thinking in the back of my mind it should be packed, but what if it doesn’t get packed. You always have to worry about the good and the bad and then just let it do what it do.”

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May 28, 2007

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