DJ Jimi, a pioneer of New Orleans hip-hop, began a regular gig in this low-slung corner barroom in the 1980s, when it was called Newton’s. In 1992 he was one of several rappers who picked up on TT Tucker and DJ Irv’s seminal bounce track “Wha Dey At” (also recorded as “Where Dey At?”), laying down his own vocals on its looped Triggerman beat. Each successive bounce song referenced its predecessors while adding a new stylistic element, and Jimi’s contribution became one of the most influential.
The recording had an unlikely champion in Isaac Bolden, a 1960s-era record man. He saw bounce spreading across the city and jumped on the trend with the help of Sea-Saint Studio assistant Dion “Devious” Norman. Norman tapped his friend Derrick “Mellow Fellow” Ordogne to produce a full-length DJ Jimi album called “It’s Jimi” on his Avenue label. It featured Jimi’s version of “Where They At,” a landmark bounce track. It also included the first recording credit by Juvenile, who, true to his name, was 17 at the time. His rapping on “Bounce for the Juvenile” marked the start of a career that went to the top of the national charts.
Newton’s was also where rap group U.N.L.V. recorded their first song, “Another Bitch,” in 1992. Taking cues from the streets of Central City, rappers Tec-9 and Lil Ya rapped over the Triggerman beat with a gangster edge. The club is just around the corner from 6th and Baronne, the intersection that gave the group’s first album its name. (It’s also a few blocks from the Magnolia public housing development, a longstanding incubator for musical talent and the launching pad for the Cash Money Records hip-hop empire.)
Later in the 90s the bar was reinvented as Guitar Joe’s House of Blues (not to be confused with the House of Blues franchise in the French Quarter). Proprietor “Guitar Joe” Daniels was a veteran of the local blues scene and one-time resident of the nearby Dew Drop Inn. Local favorites like Mathilda Jones, Ernie Vincent, and Guitar Lightnin’ Lee played to a neighborhood crowd here until the doors closed some years after Hurricane Katrina. In 2017, as Central City gentrified, Danny Nick of the metal band Suplecs opened a tiki bar here called Portside Lounge, which continued to attract some old regulars.
Video for "Where They At" by DJ Jimi from 1992.