Soul Rebels Brass Band formed when Lumar LeBlanc and Derrick Moss, originally members of New Orleans’ iconic Dejean’s Young Olympia Brass Band, decided they wanted to play the new, exciting music they were hearing on the radio while respecting the tradition they loved. Both New Orleans natives, the pair was steeped in the fundamentals of New Orleans jazz, but inevitably, contemporary styles of music began to seep into their psyches. While LeBlanc attended the famed St. Augustine High School, Moss went to Lil’ Wayne’s alma mater McMain High School, and paraded alongside soon-to-be Cash Money Records CEO Ronald “Slim” Williams in the school’s marching band. All around were new sounds they found as exciting as the horn-combo style featured in jazz funerals since the turn of the Twentieth Century.
Soul Rebels honed their skills where most New Orleans brass bands do—in the street. But by the time they were a functioning unit, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band had already broken out as an international touring act. That band’s success showed Soul Rebels a New Orleans brass band could not only have a contemporary sound, but it could also have a place on stage. Although the Dirty Dozen had updated the brass band tradition with elements of R&B and Funk, Soul Rebels took it a step further, incorporating hip-hop, especially through half-sung, half-rapped lyrics. “Most of our originals have vocals,” says LeBlanc. “You wouldn’t have done that in a traditional brass band.”