5 Years After Hurricane Katrina – Hip-Hop Reflections on New Orleans

Originally published in the November 2005 issue of XXL

In the early morning hours of Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast just east of New Orleans. While the Crescent City was spared the direct fury of the hurricane itself, on the next day, the system of levees that protected the city broke, and the waters of Lake Pontchartrain began to flood the city. By Wednesday evening it was estimated that 80 percent of New Orleans was submerged under water, and N.O.’s Mayor C. Ray Nagin projected that the death toll could reach into the thousands.

In the late ’90s, on the strength of two homegrown and fabulously successful record labels, Cash Money and No Limit, N’awilins became one of the undisputed capitals of rap. But hip-hop—and music in general—in the Big Easy has a rich history pre the bling-bling era, even before the advent of bounce music in the ’80s. “Before hip-hop there was bebop and there was jazz and there was jiving, and that’s where rap really came from,” said Juvenile, just 48 hours after the flooding. “A lot of people try to give other people props for that. But [it goes] back to the old days when cats like Louis Armstrong were rapping. People forget that hip-hop came from another form of music. It wasn’t a place where niggas just started rapping. I just want people to know that. New Orleans is part of the rap culture’s history. A huge part.”

From the renowned Peaches record store in the Gentilly District to the infamous Magnolia and Calliope projects in Uptown’s Third Ward to C-Murder’s, Mystikal’s and Mac’s jail cells to Soulja Slim’s grave to the House of Blues in the French Quarters to City Park, many Louisiana hip-hop landmarks were destroyed or damaged by the floods. Not to mention the thousands of citizens, both famous and not, who lost homes, property, and worse, family and friends.

In the days and weeks following the storm, the national rap community stepped up to help Katrina’s victims. Juve (who lost his brand-new house and fleet of cars) and Master P (who went days without knowing the whereabouts of his missing father and sister-in-law and lost his homes), two N.O. artists who are not normally known to join forces, participated in a BET telethon. Rappers from coast to coast were donating or planning nationwide events and mixtapes to raise money for American’s devastated by Katrina. “We must be as gangsta in protecting and rebuilding our hoods as we are in representing them,” said David Banner, a native of Mississippi, which was also hit hard by the hurricane.

We here at XXL were proud to see rap fans and artists come out in droves to support the relief funds and events planned for the Gulf Coast and the city of N.O., a place that has played a huge role in hip-hop’s life story. Even now, five years later, the city is still rebuilding and we send our prayers to all those that lost loved ones the storm and are still trying to put the pieces back together. —XXL Staff


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  • GOrleans

    I wuz in NO when katrina hit nigga & dat shit wasnt no joke. All you fuck niggas thinkin you could handle that you aint shit. Fuck yall!

    • say what

      fuck bwah u aint shit, fuck u n yo ho ass city BIIIIIIIITCH hope yo family died in that mothafucka

  • DJ Postman

    Jay-Z’s “Minority Report” doesn’t make the list, from “Kingdom Come”? That song beats any of these others. Just saying.

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  • Face Phoenix

    The thing that angers me the most about Katrina is the rest of the nation’s reaction. The media carefully chose what they wanted to show. I remember just weeks after the disaster it slowly was being ushered out of the public conscience. Less and less coverage was given when it was far worse than 9/11. Many feel it was just a racial issue but it was what it has always been a war against the poor. They contained New Orleans and it’s citizens like they were lepers. Acting as if they were worthless but if that was somewhere more like The Hamptons or Denver I truly believe the public outcry would have been different and would have ushered a swifter response from Dubya (W.). The media treated New Orleans as if it was a third world nation instead of fellow citizens of the same nation. It millions raised by the private sector was a drop in the bucket in comparison to the Billions needed to resurrect and restore the city. This was a prime example that value of a human life has a little meaning to our leaders.

  • Axeo

    I can’t remember exactly what was said but it might as well have been what was said I remember two photos. One showed a white family with the caption family scavenging for survival in a supermarket then a photo of a black family with the caption hoodlums taking advantage of a disaster stealing from the supermarket.

    I couldn’t believe the racism and disgraceful journalism that was going on. Seeing people in the stadium basicly covered in shit and getting no assistance for what i believe was 1-2 weeks. I felt really ashamed as a Conservitive at the time because of how slow W.Bush took any real action.

    Katrina needs to be remembered like 9/11 in the same vien that it never ever happens again.

  • Malik

    Yeah, the only one to make sure a Katrina never happens again is not build your city below sea level. As long as it is below sea level, there’s a high enough probability every hurricane season that New Orleans will get flooded again.

    • Southcidal

      @ malik,

      Below sea level cities are not the only ones vulnerable. Any city that lies on a shore of a major body of water is. And don’t think New York is exempt. Do you know what a hurricane would do to Long Island? Once it turns north and gets past the Carolinas it’ll only get faster and stronger.

      New Orleans had trouble getting everybody out, imagine the gridlocked traffic of the Big Apple w/ a monster storm approaching?

  • Southcidal

    Brad Pitt has done more for the city of New Orleans than Baby and Master P put together…….SAD.

    • no

      fuck u, no white ppl did shit for us. them mothafuckas LAUGHED when the water came nigga. president bush ass nigga. FUCK U

  • Zulu1925

    @ Malik

    Do you understand the economic and military significance to America of controlling the mouth of the Mississippi River? Why do you think Britain’s last gasp (though after the official end of the War for American Independence) was the Battle of New Orleans? Controlling this area is paramount to the security and prosperity of any nation occupying the middle of North America. There will ALWAYS be a city located near the mouth of the river.

    • Malik

      Suck a dick you retarded fucking faggot. Quit trying to defend what happened.

    • Malik

      I’m well aware that it is an important city. And I wouldn’t ever want New Orleans to go away, but unfortunately as long as it is there, there is a chance that it will happen again. The best case scenerio would be that now everyone is prepared for it to happen again one day and get the necessary help and funds to minimize the damage and lose of life.

  • http://youtube.com/reelmuzik ReelMuzikRep

    R.I.P. to all the victims of Katrina. That sh*t just wasn’t right. Come to youtube.com/reelmuzik and hear some tracks that we dedicated to the loss. We got ‘em for sale & lease as well. -GoodMike

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  • KeepinItReal

    We sent no help cause everyone there welfare check gettin motherfuckers anyways!!

  • mando

    wanna See @gordobrega on that #XXL2011Freshmen Cover!