Warren Mayes – Keep on kickin it

Warren Mayes Warren Mays
In the mid-1980s, though hip hop was still primarily an east coast phenomenon, it was quickly spreading to other locales like the musically rich bottom of the map, New Orleans. In 1984, Mannie Fresh, Mia X, DJ Wop and New York-transplant Denny D formed New Orleans’ first rap crew, New York Incorporated. Two years later, The Ninja Crew (ninjas being hugely popular then) released the first N.O. rap recording “We Destroy” on 4-Sight, the Ft. Lauderdale bass label. The Ninja Crew included Gregory D, Sporty T and DJ Baby T (aka DJ Lil Daddy).

After those acts broke up, other local rappers began emerging in a rapidly expanding field including MC J’ Ro J’Tim Smooth, 39 Posse and the subject of this blog, Warren Henry Mayes III.

Warren Henry Mayes III (often spelled “Mays”) was – along with Ann, Lisa, Travis, Eldridge, Bernell J, Melanie , Izell, Stella “Sunshine” and Renaldo – one of Melba “Ann” Mayes and Warren “Swingin’ Gate” Mayes’s many children.  Warren Jr. was a songwriter and dancer. The large Mayes family lived in the 4th ward’s Iberville projects.

Warren III (nicknamed “Stone”) was also a songwriter. He released his debut, Doin Them Right (Touchdown Records) in 1986. It included the songs “Rock Warren Mayes Get It Girl/Jamthe Bells Baby,” “It’s Real When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Full Time Lover,” Warren Mayes Doin’ Them Right,” “That’s the Way it Is/I’m Backin’ Out,” “Telephone Lover,” “So How Ya Livin Homies,” “Straight From the Project,” “Don’t Stop,” “Stop Jocking,” “Do Your Thing,” “Backin’ Out.”

Old school New Orleanians still fondly recall the flashy legend, proudly driving his Camaro Iroc-Z and wowing the crowds (appropriately, given his sartorial sensibility) at Club Adidas and Club Polo. He released the single, “Get It Girl (Don’t Stop)” b/w “Jam” in 1989. In 1991, it got picked up by Atlantic. The song wasn’t quite bounce – it doesn’t use the triggerman or brown beats, for example. It is recognizably New Orleanian in its used of a repetitive chants in the coda and the shout outs, albeit to various signs of the zodiac instead of projects, neighborhoods and wards.
The song, produced by the legendary Bobby Marchan for Manicure Records, also got picked up by The Re-Birth Jazz Band, who a year later would record Warren Mayes Jr.’s (Stone’s father) “(You Got the) Same Thang On.” In New Orleans, the second line bands and rappers often have close ties share a similarly cheerful antagonism as conveyed in chants like “If you ain’t gonna roll get the fuck on out the way” and Warren Mayes pioneered a brand of New Orleanian hip hop that often used second line bands for accompaniment.

In 1994, Warren released the thirteen track Back for the 94’ on Party Time Records. For reasons unbeknownst to me, he dropped the “e” from his last name on this and all subsequent releases. He Warren Mays Back for the 94'also he appeared alongside DJ KLC and Serv-On on Magnolia Slim’s “Made for Walkin’”debut, off his debut, Soulja 4 Lyfe (Parkway Pumpin’) in ’95.

That same  year he released Warren Mays and the Canivin’ Boys (1995/Hot Crescent Records)  which included the songs “Intro,”“Booty Shake,” “Get It Girl (Remix),” “ Bounce to This,” “Real Ass Brother,” “Revenge,” “Get Their Skull Cracked,” “Don’t Bounce Bitch,” “Represent Yourself,”  “No One Wants to Get Shot,”  “Do My Thang,”  “You Make Me Nasty, “Let It Hang ,” “Doin’ Em Right,”Warren Mays and the Canivin' Boys “It’s Real,” “Rock The Bells,” “Back for the 9-4 (Club Mix),” “ If Your Down With Your Hood, Put Your Hand Up” and “Club Mix.” Not only did Mays on occasion employ Re-Birth to accompany him in his unique mix of hip-hop and second line music, he even included some tracks where Rebirth play without him. Another point of not, the album’s covers stark art is so at odds with Pen & Pixel’s then-dominant electronic collages that it could almost pass for Peter Saville.

In 1996, he appeared on Pimp Daddy’s posthumous release/tribute, Pimpin’ Ain’t E Z, with the tongue twisting bounce classic “Keep on Kick It” with production courtesy of Mannie Fresh.

The double album, Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – See Me When I Get There appeared in 1999, credited to Warren Mays and Da Posse. With 8th Ward Villian, Von Ness, YTs and a host of others, it’s an epic Warren Mays and da Posse Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now See Me When I Get Therecompilation more than a solo record. Shockingly, it was reviewed by Neil Strauss in The New York Times when he included it in his article “The Pop Life: Undeservedly Obscure; Pop Critics List the Worthwhile Albums Most People Missed.”

Unfortunately, like so many New Orleanians, Warren Mays lost his life an early age, killed August 6th, 1999. As is the case with 99% of murdered rappers, the case remains unsolved. RIP


Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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