Published on June 30th, 2018 | by David Morales0
Big Freedia: The Queen of Bounce talks politics for Pride Month 2018
Big Freedia is one of the biggest voices to come out of New Orleans in the last decade. He describes his music as party music, bringing a call and response style of hip hop called bounce to the mainstream. The Hype magazine wanted to know more about what influenced his style and what being queer had to do with it. Freedia, also known as, The Queen of Bounce, discussed with The Hype magazine the current political climate and how it affects disenfranchised and marginalized groups. We asked Freedia about his new music, about his stance on politics, and his views on gender identity. He also shared how his powerful music transcends boundaries and how his presence in the industry has influenced the world of hip hop as a gay artist.
For me, it’s about helping LGBTQ artists from all around the world to keep pushing through and to take music even further. I want to let artists know that no matter what your background or whatever your walk of life is, that you can do phenomenal things in your life and in your music — Big Freedia.
It is no secret that the Trump administration is determined to target LGBTQ people, women, and other minority communities. The proposed policies blatantly allow the government to discriminate. “They have an identity crisis that they’re going through themselves,” Big Freedia told The Hype magazine. So, what does that mean for queer black artists? It is rare to see them in the forefront as too often their voices go unheard. Freedia thoughtfully described the supportive structure of gay culture, while outlining the need for many to take on a more supportive role in the LGBTQ community.
Big Freedia got his start by singing backup for bounce artist Katy Red, the first gay rapper in New Orleans to come out. Together, they fought to change the status quo and heteronormative standards by challenging gender identity constructs set by the industry. Freedia’s first LP, “Just Be Free” was called one of the ‘best electronic releases’ by Rolling Stone. It was also critically acclaimed by outlets including Pitchfork, SPIN, USA Today, and Consequence of Sound.
Being no stranger to the mainstream, Freedia has collaborated with Beyoncé for the track “Formation,” in 2016. Earlier this year, he can be heard on Drake’s “Nice for What” single. The influences on these singles means continued progress for Big Freedia and for bounce music. Freedia has also seen success in the crossover markets of cable television as the star of the Fuse series “Big Freedia Bounces Back,” a reality TV show about life in the mainstream.
This month, Freedia and New Orlean’s bounce producer BlaqNmilD dropped the new five-track “3rd Ward Bounce,” EP after releasing the video “Rent,” as the first single via Asylum Records. The sound grooves a classic bounce signature. “Rent” is an exciting song that everyone can relate to. It is a song that is about the importance of reciprocity with no recourse.
The new “3rd Ward Bounce” EP includes assistance from Goldiie, Erica Falls, and Lizzo.” The EP is full of attitude and is as energetic as it combines elements of old school hip hop with contemporary electronic sounds. The opening track “Karaoke” exhibits an inviting backdrop of horns over a triggerman beat. The track “Bomb” is extraordinary. It pounds hard giving off a powerful rhythmic melody. Truly an earful of bounce style hip hop suitable for pop consumers.
You recently released the video for “Rent,” the first single from your upcoming album on Asylum Records. What can you tell me about it?
Well, “Rent” was a very exciting song. It is something that people can relate to in their everyday lives. I’m truly excited about it because it’s also the new 2018 sound of Big Freedia. I’m trying to take bounce music to the next level of becoming more mainstream. So, it’s a very exciting album for me. It’s a change for me. I’m using new music, new producers, and new ideas. So, I’m excited about this whole new album and projects that I’m working on and a record label. I have some push behind me, you know?
You are experiencing a different level of fame with “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce” on Fuse. Did you see this coming?
I continue to work harder to stay focused. I never know what’s going to happen in my career. I just continued to grind and continue to put New Orleans on the map. So, I mean many things happened that I’m not truly expecting, but I just sit back and keep on pushing through.
I understand that you have collaborated with Beyoncé and more recently on Drake’s 2018 single “Nice for What.” What can you tell me about that?
Drakes people reached out to my management and they wanted me to be a part of the project. When they called, I was super excited. I didn’t get overwhelmed until the deal was finalized. Once I heard the song and I was very pleased with my sample being in it. We closed the deal and the next thing I know it was out two days later. So, it was very exciting. The same thing happened for Beyoncé. Her publicist reached out to mine, and they called me personally. She told me to put some New Orleans flavor on it and that’s exactly what I did.
How would you describe your influence as a gay artist in the world of hip hop?
For New Orleans its very influential. We are definitely ahead of the game right now in keeping culture alive. For me, it’s helping LGBTQ artists all around the world to keep pushing through and to take music even further. I want to let artists know that no matter what your background or whatever your walk of life is, that you can do something phenomenal in your life and in your music. So, I’m helping to keep on opening doors and knocking down barriers for other artists. Not just locally here in New Orleans, but around the world.
You have a European tour planned this summer is that right?
Yes! I’m excited to be going to Europe. I’ll be in New York next month for Big Freedia’s Pride Kick-off Karaoke Party. I go shake the Europeans up once a year. My followers are growing over there. They have a large gay community over there, so they are definitely getting the sound of Big Freedia and bounce music.
What are your thoughts on gender and gender identity?
Whatever a person identifies with, I’m down with it, you know, whatever makes them happy, whatever makes them comfortable, and whatever rocks their boat. People have the choice to be who they want, do whatever they want, love whoever they want, so you know, whichever direction that they want to go in – free to fall for it. You know?
As a gay artist of color, how do you feel about the Trump administration and their attacks on the LGBTQ community?
Well, they’re full of shit! They have an identity crisis that they’re going through themselves. That’s why they want to target other gay people around the world. Most of those people need to take a look in the mirror. Take a look at themselves, because we help to create so much love and peace around the world. People need to think about somebody that may be in their family that may be gay and has to deal with being looked at in a certain way because of who they are or who they choose to love. People can be full of bullshit.
In the gay culture, we have people who look up to us. So, that might be somebody like a gay mom, uncle, you know, a niece, or nephew. So, we refer to different people to different parts of our lives, and we represent them in a way of saying how they will be kin to us. I have gay kids, nieces and nephews, and my gay sister. I have my gay brothers as well.
We call that like the house, where one person is kind of the role model that people look up to. Being a family member or just somebody in it puts them in a category where they are like one of our loved ones, and we love each other like we’re really Kin. When I was a kid and growing up, the world has definitely opened up a whole lot more and being more open minded we’re here to stay no matter what they do or no matter what they say, we’re not going nowhere. So, the Trump Administration better get with the program.
What’s next for you?
After this album? This project that I’m working on is to see what direction I go next. I will just keep on grinding and work every day and fall on my path and staying focused on opening doors and breaking barriers for younger artists and the younger generation that’s coming behind me.
Photo credit: Hunter HolderTweet