BIG FREEDIA: The ‘undisputed ambassador’ of the energetic, New Orleans-based Bounce movement comes to PrideEntertainment Feature Thursday, July 9th, 2015
If you take a metaphorical power saw to conventional hip-hop, inject it with a furious beat and a call-and-response patter, Bounce, one of the largest regional strains of the genre you may never heard of, starts taking shape. An early offshoot of Bronx-based hip-hop, Bounce arguably took off in 1991. According to Matt Miller, author of Bounce: Rap Music and Local Identity in New Orleans, “Kevin MC T. Tucker” Ventry, one of the first Bounce artists, captured the attention of [New Orleans] in 1991 with his style of rap defined by a preference for chanted refrains and the use of several core samples to form the backing music, two characteristics which came to signify Bounce music.” And few artists like Big Freedia have captured its history with an eye toward the future more notably.
But let’s first circle back to 1991. The Gulf War for six weeks that summer raged on television. Culturally, Madonna was still the It girl and Street Fighter II was released in arcades. The former Soviet Union bloc was a huge, gooey geopolitical mess and gas cost, on average, $1.14 at the pump.
Musically, R.E.M. were “Losing Their Religion” and everything Bryan Adams did, he did it for you. Meanwhile, Luther Vandross was crooning over the “Power of Love” and Mariah Carey’s “Emotions” were seemingly everyone’s emotions in 1991 according to Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for that year.
So, given an almost 25 year period of incubation and development, why is it that Bounce hasn’t spread into the mainstream musical lexicon? It’s certainly not because it can’t stand on its own and be counted, mind you.
While the answer to that is still being fleshed out, Big Freedia, a San Diego Pride headliner and, first and foremost, Bounce ambassador, mines every opportunity, no matter how seemingly random at inception, and wills it into being something worth our notice. At 74 inches and with a stentorian grace normally reserved for political firebrands or Roman generals charging off into battle, Big Freedia envelopes you with an unflappable faith in both her music and herself. Her concerts – short, frenetic, female-oriented – shove human sexuality down your throat in ways that are both aggressive and liberating.
This January, Big Freedia made her television network debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! She appeared on “Last Call with Carson Daly,” FADERTV, PITCHFORK TV and has been lauded in numerous media outlets.
Always pushing artistic boundaries, this year Big Freedia went hi-tech by releasing the Big Freedia Booty Battle Video Game, which Forbes magazine covered, calling it “… everything a great game should be.”
Then there’s the reality programming where Big Freedia stars as Big Freedia in a show about, who else, Big Freedia on Fuse TV. Luckily, San Diego LGBT Weekly got our day in court, albeit a far too brief one, to pose some questions to the Queen. But you decide if brevity is the soul of wit.
San Diego LGBT Weekly: Describe ‘Bounce;’ its rhythm, style, roots and influences for an audience that may not have ever heard of it. Who has been most influential for you and your particular style of Bounce and how?
Big Freedia: Bounce is a very fast-paced call-and-response hybrid of hip-hop. It’s a totally New Orleans-inspired style of music and has the Mardi Gras Indian and the Big Band Jazz influences. My biggest influencers were Katy Red and DJ Jubilee. They are pioneers in the Bounce game.
How has Bounce changed or not changed over the last 20 or so years of its short musical life?
Well, I think as it becomes more popular in the mainstream, it’s becoming more infused with electronic sounds. An example of this is my new song with Diplo, “Drop.” It’s on the Entourage soundtrack too!
Since you are talented enough to have succeeded in so many musical forms, why Bounce?
Bounce is in my veins. It’s what we all listened to in New Orleans in the ’80s and ’90s. It was that or Gospel, baby!
Everyone either knows (or quickly learns) to use the feminine pronoun when referring to you. But you also made it clear that you are not transgender, that you’re gay. Is there a history to this?
I came out when I was 13. I’m a straight-UP gay man. I love my feminine side. She is the diva in me. I think gender identity is on a spectrum and that means there’s lots of grey area!
The term ‘Sissy Bounce’ has also taken root. Can you explain what that is, how it is and/or is not like Bounce and why some have claimed it while others have rejected it?
NOLA Bounce was being done by Juvenile and Cash Money camp. When they went worldwide, sissies invented our own style. It was a bit more sexual and more fun!
Who is one Bounce performer you would like to perform with but haven’t yet?
What were the circumstances of your coming out? Have you or do you ever see your sexuality as a curse rather than the blessing it is?
Oh I won’t give that away. You have to get my book, God Save the Queen Diva! It comes out next week on Simon and Schuster.
Are/were you close with your family? In what ways? When, if applicable, did you come out to them? What was their initial response?
Family is everything to me so, yes, I’m very close to all my family. My mother was my heart. She died of cancer a couple of years ago and I’m not the same. My sister and brother are my babies. I love them. I recently reconciled with my dad, too.
What would you like San Diego to know about you before they finally see you perform as one of the headliners at this year’s Pride festival?
Oh, San Diego has always been very welcoming to me, so I just want them to come out and celebrate all the progress we made last week! Forget their problems for a day and come out and shake!
Do you ever think we’ll see a “Vanilla Ice” of Bounce music?
Oh no, baby. But Bounce music and my shows are for everyone, black, white, straight, gay!
Catch Big Freedia on the Movement Hip-Hop Stage at the San Diego Pride Musical Festival Sunday July 19 at 6 p.m.
For the latest news on Big Freedia visit bigfreedia.com
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=62084