Photo by Brady Fontenot
Since the late ’90s, New Orleans rapper Big Freedia has been perfecting the art of New Orleans bounce, a sub-genre of hip-hop built around call-and-response chants, no-pause-for-breath tempos and gleeful blue talk (Freedia’s biggest regional hit is called “Azz Everywhere,” and it’s as glorious as you’d hope). She’s now bringing bounce to the rest of us. Freedia has recently been touring nationally and is working on plans to get national distribution for her next album, a double-disc affair that she hopes will include collaborations with Spank Rock and Ninjasonik. And she doesn’t even mind that it’s taken the rest of us a while to catch on.
“Everything has its time. If it was ready then, it would have came out then,” she says. “At one point I remember people saying, ‘Everybody else is stealing our stuff, but they’re from Atlanta and Texas. When are you guys gonna make it big with the bounce?’ I felt one day it was going to blow up. It’s just all about the timing.”
Patience and party-starting are just two of Freedia’s many virtues. Genetically a man but self-identifying as a fashionable, powerful woman, Freedia’s outspoken personality and music have helped make bounce a more accepting genre.
“I think people are starting to look at things differently,” she says. “Enjoy life, party, don’t judge a book by its cover ’cause you never know what’s inside. I’ve been preaching that mainly at my shows, thanking people for accepting me as who I am, for not being afraid or being homophobic. You can come up and say anything to me—boys, females, males, whatever. Don’t be afraid to express yourself or be yourself. Now it’s my chance to work it with the world.”