This is the premiere piece from our newest contributor and official New Orleans correspondent Chris Dodson. Chris shares his background and places himself in this space and then gives us NOLA’s 2020 Top 20 artists, players, and coaches. Welcome to the fam Chris!

Camera pans back.


Oh man. My introductory article for Music, Movies and Hoops. I have to think I’m here in most part because Sasha the Trivia Savant saw an article I wrote about the New Orleans Pelicans or the hoops scene in the city. I would have wrote those words for Forbes and due to my belief in old school style guides, this is the most I have used the word ‘I’ in an article, perhaps ever. I am coming into this space with a Biden-like mandate to be more of an unfiltered self when it comes to the general topics of Music, Movies, and Hoops.

However, I am only ‘myself’ when I am learning and engaging with others, as well as when learning about myself when I tell my story. When you hear thought patterns and just react in replies and become curious about what actually came out. Well, in terms of Music, Movies, and Hoops, those three things have proven among the greatest at eliciting genuine responses. Music makes you vibe a certain way. Movies can make you feel a full range of emotions. Hoops brings out the best and worst of emotions, whether on the court, jumping out of your seat, or slumping in a chair with a busted dream. All three also bring people together in ways that perhaps escape a truly perfect encapsulation within one paragraph.

I moved to New Orleans last July, after writing my way into a contract for the 2019-20 NBA season. I was born in Houma, LA but I wanted to truly learn about the city, having never lived here as an adult. The most obvious avenue was basketball, and I was blessed to run into some great conduits of court history in the Crescent City along the way. The next option was to get out and see live music. COVID-19 killed that for the most part. However, the downtime did give me months to catch up on all those movies I wanted to see. There will be complimentary breakdowns and cynical rants to come on so much of that content in future articles, but for now, let’s focus on the first year of building a knowledge base about the New Orleans Music, Movies, and Hoops scene.

I am not usually into doing lists or power rankings in my sports and politics gigs. However, this being one of the most unpredictable years I’ve been one earth, let’s just make this simple. In being in New Orleans just over a year, this is the Top 20 New Orleans Music, Movies, and Hoops artists still pushing forward in 2020. In meeting with, talking, chatting, texting, DM-ing, watching, and listening to everyone on this list, I feel I now know 2020% more about the city than I did a year ago. It’s also a list of mostly positive (trap music gonna trap) influencers and artist to keep an eye on for big moves into 2021. (Only 49 more days of 2020 y’all!)

Top 20 New Orleans Music, Movies, and Hoops Artists Still Pushing Forward in 2020

  1. Lamar Peters will soon be returning to training camp for the New York Knicks. Before departing he hosted a Stop The Violence basketball camp for kids of all ages in New Orleans East. Born in the 9th Ward, he brought two state championships to the neighborhood back in his high school days.

  2. Tyree Griffin is back in the states but has been making his way up the European professional ladder. He was right there in the gym with Peters during the Stop The Violence basketball camp. Given a season worth of a chance in the EuroLeague or La Liga, Griffin could make a push to join Peters as New Orleans natives leading NBA offenses.

  3. Coach Rory Poplion at Delgado Community College has been training Peters and Griffin alongside the next generation of New Orleans talent. It took some work to find a gym, which I can say personally was a hot box with two rims and no air conditioning in the middle of New Orleans summer, but Poplion sees the work paying off. Pitching his efforts for a Forbes story was breeze that I could have used in that gym.

  4. Coach Shaun Dumas is not competing with other coaches like Poplion when it comes to being a leader in the community. This list is not an AAU ranking to be argued about. Coach Dumas is second to none when it comes to living the struggle of New Orleans and using that experience to guide the next generation in a positive, understanding manner. ESPN’s Andrew Lopez wrote up a 15 minute read on Dumas that makes for a near-finished movie script.

  5. Coach James Parlow with F.A.S.T. Basketball who helped Peters is hosting the Stop The Violence basketball camp on Jrue Holiday court. A record holder at University of New Orleans, Parlow showed all the ways basketball can help an aging baller keep his youth. Watching him talk to the kids ranging from 3 to 14 on how to approach the game helped bring understanding to a 36-year-old man. Watching him laugh as he chased those kids around the court and pretended to get crossed up reminded all the parents watching what it was like to play when they were young. They also knew their kids were in good hands with Coach Parlow.

  6. Anthony Rhodes Jr. captures the actions on his camera, winning some scholarships because of his work. He is “not sure where I will end up but I know long term I want to keep using my platform to spotlight athletes in New Orleans because frankly we have a lot of athletes who get overlooked. And from the work I have been putting in, I have gained the respect of my peers , so I want to always give the love back that they continue to show me. I try to capture the stories of athletes because honestly no one truly does it for the athletes who aren’t the “big names”, except a few people. Yes we know all these players won’t make it, however I feel as if everyone deserves to receive some spotlight or they should feel as if their hard work on the field matters! And from just observing athletes , I can assure you they appreciate it a whole lot!”

    Insert: Once the work in the gym is complete, the parade of cars zydeco-ing away from the gym is usually bumping the beats of the city. Generally speaking the city supports fellow musicians but that is not always the case. Whether it be an outsider like Sean Feucht coming in with a veiled Quasi-Trump Full-On religious demonstration or just a rival from a different block, there can sometimes be differences. When it comes out in violence, the world takes a loss. When that emotion and energy is channeled into music, New Orleans studios mint Cash Money millionaires every decade.

  7. The soundtrack of the city starts with Kenneth Brother these days. He has millions of listens on Spotify and SoundCloud. He is also one of the most beloved in the city. When meeting with a few artist, and telling friends at the bar about the project, several people mentioned the KB was one of the artists the streets would protect. He wouldn’t have to watch his back like some others. Still, Kenneth Brother as a performing name comes from street violence that stole a life from the family and the city. KB took those messing around mixtapes in the back of a high school bus to some high class studios in the last few years. He is the most likely, in my opinion, to go to a mainstream millionaire level. The cross over appeal is there. The message is there. The humble approach is there. If anyone in New Orleans deserves a real shot and has the resume to prove he earned it to any hater that may exist, it is Kenneth Brother.

  8. Rob49 follows right behind. Rob comes from the Iberville Project and the Desire Projects, that’s where the 49 comes from. He is “an independent right now so I drop my music myself. I have 4 different Big labels after me. I make music for the trenches and the youngins with some money from the trenches who are trying to evolve from the street mentality. My motivation behind my music is finally finding something that can change our lifestyle, from being project baby’s and possibly making myself and my family Stress Free. I only been rapping for 6 months so that falls into COVID so I never did a show and I release all my music off of distribution sites. I don’t know if the Corona helped or held me back because that’s when I popped really, but it’s been holding me back from throwing shows and traveling for real. I keep grinding because I know If all this can happen in 6 months, there has to be more in store for me.”

  9. DJ RBD is one of the most versatile DJ’s in the South. He is constantly releasing mixes on SoundCloud, is affiliated with the PowerMoney label, and has a sponsorship deal with Twenty1Rich clothing. He rocks the rhythms from rap to dancehall soco, wearing out his spinning wheels of steel and records from Houston to Atlanta. He said, “Corona changed my brand a lot, from sterilizing all of my equipment after every show to even the pricing of certain events. Being an entrepreneur I have to single handily stay afloat by lowering my pricing because a lot of my supporters were laid off due to the virus. I keep going because it’s a lifestyle I have gotten accustomed to. It’s my business and helps pay my bills.”

  10. Malikai and G-Money bridging the gap with I-10 Connect. It is the other side of road, as the name suggest. Instead of petty battles, the two collaborate back on forth on the beats about keeping the Head Down but sometimes having a little Liquid Courage. Malik says, “Our music is very spontaneous I would say the music is made based off of how we are feeling at the time. I would describe out music as very creative, very humorous and also very raw. I also like the different styles that we have considering I’m from Baton Rouge and G and Ray are from New Orleans. I feel that it’s a very good mixture of the two which is why the tape was called I-10 connect.” G-Money added, “to be honest, I tell people all the time I do this for fun. So you may think I lack motivation but in reality you got to have fun with what you do to want to continue doing it. The motivation would be me just enjoying myself, having fun. That keeps me coming back to the music.”

  11. Broadway Loe listens to a lot of throwback rap (Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, Soulja Slim, BG, Pac, the Lox.) that’s what motivates him for a session. He was hitting the stages of the House of Blues, Dragon’s Den, The Hangar, Tipitinas, Howling Wolf, and more before the pandemic. He keeps “grinding because I put too much time in it just to quit! Yeah sometimes you can loose focus, get jaded with it, lose hope, just wanna say fuck it! But that’s where my discipline come in at. And too many people believe in me, I can’t quit and let them down. So that’s why I keep grinding.’’

  12. REL is on the other end. Not signed to any label REL does not “play very many shows, but I had two shows in late March in early April that had to be canceled because of COVID restrictions. I may not ever play a show again, honestly. My plan is to release an EP every 6 months (next one due in January) and then disappear again until the July release. Previously I’ve made acoustic and/or soft rock music, but since the pandemic began and I had so much extra time to myself between March and June, I actually wrote two more EPs worth of music. The music I’ve written during the pandemic has been a totally different vibe. It has more of an r&b feel to it, and I even attempt to rap on a couple of tracks. I’m just having fun with it! I mostly make music for myself and if other people want to listen to it, that’s a bonus! So I think I’ll always keep writing, in order to have a creative outlet for myself! As far as the motivation, some songs are real life experience, some are strictly “I wonder what I would say/do if this were to happen” and I just go from there.”

  13. G.SIETE (Gabriel Henry) releases music under an independent distribution company called REP Distribution, he is signed to “B7GENT” and also owns the label. G.SIETE makes hip-hop/ r&b mostly, describing his music as “motivational music no matter what race or social class you are in. It’s like small stories in an average 18-30-year-old life and I can tell them through every view. My motivations behind it is always being the smart person in the hood and using my brains and the people around me mistakes by putting them together and creating a structure how to move through this world to help guide you on the right path. You must keep grinding because you never know how close you are to the goal you’re tryna achieve and no matter what everybody else is doing long as you know you are doing whatever it takes to make it.”

  14. “WHOTFISMAR” (pronounced “Who The Fuck Is Mar is in negotiations with a Los Angeles-based management company, but wants “to be like Master P, Birdman and have a real label…just do things way better and be respected like Sony or Interscope. I plan to call my label “Tapped In Records” If I had to describe my music firstly I’d say all truth. Anything I talk about I’ve 100% done it or experienced. While everything I dropped so far is from 2019 I like to call my music prophecies as well. Events that I felt in 2019 came true in 2020 before any signs of then happening. I’m a singer first and I experiment with rap…The motivation in my music started out as a way for me to express so many bottled up emotions. I was never good with talking to people or even communicating any many places, soon as I started writing and it all got easier, better. It’s therapy for me really. Then I realized the messages embedded in my lyrics will help masses, not distract them from what’s going on. I want to make people FEEL and SEE thru sound Corona virus actually helped me get passed my insecurities music wise. Once the pandemic hit I was actually in the studio way more…I’ve been able to write 2-3 songs a day and go ahead and be in multiple different studios throughout the week. The virus motivated me to go even harder seeing how we had to live and how others’ worlds who were in a better position had a completely different experience for the virus. I feel like my music is definitely an open look into how bad situations and growing up in a certain environment to have a “street mindset,” but having an outside “outer space” mindset set me on a wiser path.”

  15. Birdie Jackson describes his music as “inspirational, storytelling that is laced with gems and game for younger folk. My motivation is just to pass down game to the younger generation. I like music with a message but not 100%. Nothing like Public Enemy. More like a Jay-Z. Nice beat, cool flow, but I’m dropping game…I make the beats and do the mixing so everything yo hear comes from my hands, my head, and my heart. Corona hasn’t really changed anything for me because I didn’t make my money in the club. People still purchase my albums and my streams still rolling. The more I put out new music, I see my old music still getting spins which tells me I make timeless music. The reason I keep grinding is the love. I been rapping since high school in the hallways. I been releasing music since I was 21, I’m 34 now. Its just in me and plus people still ask me when stuff is coming which tells me my old ass is doing something right. My focus has shifted more to fashion long term but I think music is just in you. You can’t shake it. Even if I stop rapping, I’ll still produce and engineer for the new generation. I want to get into songwriting for singers as well so we will see what the future and the universe holds for me.” “Uncle Birdie” will be release later this November.

  16. Dash Michelle (Destyni Michelle Green) released her first single “Bet Dat” in 2020 which she said “is an R&B track that’s been highly anticipated by many who often claim “R&B is dead.” I’d describe this track as passionate and sultry.” As for how she got her start up the charts, she “was fortunately introduced to Billboard Charting artist/producer Davis Chris in 2018, he then became my mentor, we created this track in person around the start of 2020 along that process. My recordings are actually mostly done on my phone so I think that in itself should tell you a lot about me already. No matter which way my art is created my intent is to bring awareness to what often just “is” in life into a musically relatable manner for my listeners.” Although she has been unable to perform during the pandemic, “Others might call it quits during times of uncertainty but I won’t settle for less when it comes to this life knowing that at some point I will be able to perform one way or another. I am signed to no label but regardless of what conditions regarding music it is what I’ve always loved so the drive comes naturally. I have an upcoming feature with artist TheoryH20, “Used Cars” that’s had a planned Halloween 202 release on his upcoming album “No Identity” which I’m grateful to be apart of. My advice is for everyone to stay tuned because I’ll forever have a song to share and this is only the beginning!”

    Insert: Not all of New Orleans is bounce, rap, and guns in the streets lyrics. No, the home of No Limit Records and the Griddy dance is also home of the blues and some wild ranges of rock and roll. Social protest punk is also picking up steam and gaining an audience. Through it all, the graphics arts and film scene in New Orleans is gaining a national reputation.

  17. HIGH was one of the most recommended listens before COVID-19 hit. The core of the band, Craig Oubre and Isidore Grisoli, has been together since before either was eligible to drive. Those bonds drive the momentum of the modern New Orleans Punk Dalliances.

  18. PEARS is another punk bank, which I’m not usually that big a fan of in big doses, but the savage satire of Comfortably Dumb just keeps me coming back to check out other songs. I can only hope to see the energy live once we get back to some semblance of normal musical life in New Orleans.

  19. Bad Operation is the best local option for the sounds of ska. Apparently the new direction and tone of the band will be a little more upbeat, though I cannot say I’ve heard too depressing of a song yet. Even when you feel some anxiousness in a song, there is a certain ambition to the band I cannot deny.

  20. A hat tip to Kevin Barrios who helped guide me to some of these artists. He also designed some of the album covers and is always dabbling in music, movies, and hoops in a way that amazes and inspires. He wrote a script for Chris Connor, both of the Bird Writes website. His in-game music breakdown has been credited for getting the team’s attention regarding actually featuring local artists. Barrios is involved in all aspects of music production, from creation to production and final album cover packaging.

Well, until next time, blast some tunes, work on your jump shot, and then recommend me a movie with an offer I cannot refuse. You don’t have to be a doctor, but you’ll need to understand I don’t love comic book flicks. If you don’t get the reference, try to smile and take it up with the Coca-Cola corporation.