Blogged by @cakedupdrippedout
New Orleans is mourning the death of one of bounce music’s most iconic figures, “Josephine Johnny” Watson.
The hip-hop pioneer learned he had colon cancer in 2015. On Friday, December 31st, he passed away in his Houston, Texas home after suffering a fatal blood clot. He was just 45-years-old.
Growing up, Johnny attended McDonogh 36 Elementary and Booker T. Washington Senior High. After high school, he began making cassette tapes with his mixes and showcased his talents at local open-mic nights. During a 1998 party, Johnny rapped what came to be known as “They Want Josephine Johnny” on the spot, causing the crowd to go wild. DJ Jubilee, another beloved figure in the New Orleans music community, taped Johnny’s performance and mixed the record, skyrocketing it to a local staple at gatherings and nightclubs. By 2000, Johnny signed a deal with Jam Tight Records, an independent label in Baton Rouge, and dropped the album, “Trouble Will Find You,” which contained his next big song, “Workin’ Wit’ Sumthin.'”
Johnny was also famous for his “shake-a-leg dance” that swept the city in the 90s.
Johnny would demonstrate the moves on stage during his performances as an excited crowd was eager to jig right along with him.
“Now, walk like a model. Now show ’em how to wobble. Shake a leg with it, shake a leg with it. Do the Johnny in the air,” Johnny would rap time and time again in nightclubs across the region.
Johnny’s dance moves were so infectious that world-renowned superstar Beyoncé Knowles-Carter performed it during a performance of her record “Crazy In Love” alongside her husband, Jay-Z. NFL pro’s with the New Orleans Saints, including Joe Horn and Reggie Wayne, have famously put their own spin on Johnny’s moves when scoring a touchdown.
“For guys who were too cool to dance, Johnny made it too cool for them not to dance,” his niece shared.
While Johnny was steeped in bounce culture, his records stood out for the peculiar vocal intonations he used. In a sense, his style could be compared to rap MC Doug E Fresh, who also possessed the ability to create unique sound blends with his voice that could not be imitated.
Despite a successful music career, Johnny had his fair share of troubles, including incarcerations and even a bout with homelessness. Nevertheless, the people of New Orleans never turned their backs on him nor his music, which has carried the city through some of its most difficult times.
“I took bits and pieces of him, put it into my beat machine, mixed it down, and it just went viral. We were still jamming to it at Katrina time in 2005,” said DJ Money Fresh.
Following the devastating news, fans and loved ones hosted a balloon release at Josephine and Liberty streets to commemorate the life of the man behind other popular singles “Classic” and “Shorty In That Thong.”
A GoFundMe account has been established to help cover funeral costs for the beloved performer.