Song: It Ain’t My Fault
Artist: Dejan’s Olympia Brass Brand
Writer: Smokey Johnson and Wardell Quezergue
Release: 1964, original release
Sampled By: Silkk the Shocker, It Ain’t My Fault, Charge it 2 Da Game (1998). I love that Silkk the Shocker sampled this, as it is a testament to the strong cultural influence of New Orleans.
I was first introduced to New Orleans more than ten years ago, when my sister left Atlanta to attend Xavier University. That beautiful Crescent City, with its living culture and magical, almost spiritual pull, will always have a special place in my heart. From the music, to the food, the history and the friendly people, there is not much I don’t like about New Orleans. If you choose to only visit the city to drink on Bourbon Street, you should know that you’re missing out on so much.
We all know the most recent history of New Orleans; the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which exposed so much about American society and politics. My sister returned to Atlanta, at the behest of our worried African mother, leaving one hour before the only exit highway closed. Stories of friends floating on mattresses, as their homes flooded. University students and nuns (Xavier is a Catholic university) breaking into dining halls, stealing frozen dough because they had not eaten in days. The people she’d grown to know and the city she’d learned to call home were destroyed by Mother Nature and forsaken by a faulty government. Sons and daughters of this great land were called refugees and looters, and treated as such. Hurricane Katrina outed the rampant racial and socio-economic inequalities of New Orleans and America; birthed from a long standing history of infractions against black civil rights, (Solomon Northup writes of his experience of being sold in New Orleans, in his memoir 12 Years a Slave).
Yet and still, that great city shines on. It shines on through the preservation of its cultural history, which cannot be said for many southern cities, that are overgrown with shiny, pretty buildings. You can hear it in the way they talk (baaaybaaay), the syncopated rhythms of every footstep that echoes of spirits past. The music and dance, the beautiful brass and percussion, buck jumping and Indian Krewes and of course, bounce music (rest peacefully, Magnolia Shorty). The food is the proof and legacy of every culture that’s ever breathed there; gumbo a direct descendant of the West African okra stew I was raised on, or the beignets and coffee of European lineage. This is New Orleans, wearing the mask of a drunken city, but underneath a rebuilding and resilient one, its culture the foundation. It is a city that opens its arms to those free spirits who search for a place to call home, it is the home for those who have wandered only to be found in New Orleans, Louisiana.