The roots of hip-hop in New Orleans run deep, intertwined with the vibrant culture and diverse sounds that define the city. One artist who emerged from this rich tapestry is Dion "Devious" Norman, a true pioneer who witnessed the birth of hip-hop and played a crucial role in its evolution in the Crescent City.
Early Exposure to Hip-Hop
Growing up in Hollygrove, Devious had a front-row seat to the early developments of hip-hop in New Orleans. His exposure to the genre began in elementary school through local radio shows like the one hosted by DJ Slick Leo on WAIL (105 FM). These shows broadcasted the same music as their counterparts in New York, providing New Orleans with a direct connection to the emerging hip-hop scene.
In the vibrant neighborhood of Hollygrove, Devious encountered influential figures like Ghost, the owner of Ghost Town, where bounce music later took root. Before bounce, Ghost organized hip-hop concerts at the Municipal Auditorium, bringing iconic acts like KRS-One, MC Shan, LL Cool J, and Run-DMC to the city. This early exposure laid the foundation for Devious's deep connection to hip-hop.
Birth of the Ninja Crew and Devious's Entry into Music
As hip-hop gained traction in New Orleans, local groups like the Ninja Crew and dance crews like the Hollygrove Creepers became central to the movement. Devious's journey into music started in the sixth grade when he began freestyling with Donald "XL" Robertson, who would later become a prominent producer for Master P.
The Ninja Crew, consisting of Gregory D, Sporty T, and DJ Baby T, made significant strides in New Orleans hip-hop. Witnessing their performances fueled Devious's passion for the genre. When the Ninja Crew went through changes, Sporty T gave Devious the green light to form a new group with DJ Baby T, leading to the birth of Baby T & Devious D.
Making Waves with "Street Life"
In 1989, Devious, alongside DJ Baby T, released "Street Life," a track that not only hit the radio but also landed on the renowned "Star Wars" program on WYLD FM 98. The success of "Street Life" marked the beginning of Devious's impactful career in the local hip-hop scene.
Around the same time, New Orleans witnessed the emergence of other influential artists and groups like Warren Mayes, 39 Posse, MC L, DJ Rob Fresh, Little Ham, Bust Down, Ice Mike, Tim Smooth, and MC Thick. These pioneers collectively shaped the landscape of New Orleans rap before the advent of bounce music.