The scope of Big Freedia’s impact is undeniable. Over the past few decades, the New Orleans native has catapulted herself from local favorite to becoming the anointed Queen of Bounce, sharing some of her high energy flavor on massive hit tracks like Beyoncé’s Grammy-winning “Formation” and Drake’s “Nice For What” while shaping contemporary culture by bringing twerking, shaking and wiggling to a national platform.
“I just want to inspire people to understand that New Orleans culture is very special, it's a phenomenal place and that we're on a rise to bigger and better things and we speak it through our music and everyday living down here,” says Freedia, who was born and raised in the city’s 3rd Ward. “The pain and suffering that we go through here in New Orleans, we take it and we flip it around.”
It’s the heartbeat of her Asylum Records debut 3rd Ward Bounce, a fiver-track EP releasing this June. Aerobic, ceaseless and a touch more mainstream than prior releases, the project has all the signifiers of Freedia’s brand of Bounce— throbbing instrumentals, booming vocals, frenetic handclaps—with even sharper songwriting that pushes her sound into new territory. Lead single “Rent” is all attitude, rebuffing the type of people who occupy a space in your mind, while “Karaoke” featuring Lizzo pounds along with robust horns, intended to become the freewheeling type of anthem that soundtracks a night out of singing. Elsewhere, the Goldie-assisted “Play” nods to the “slay” echoed on Freedia’s “Formation” collab with Beyoncé, and “Bomb” plays like a chest-thump, a nod to all that Freedia’s accomplished.
In fact, it’s hard not to feel Freedia’s presence in pop culture. In addition to high-level appearances on culturally-defining tracks and a string of her own impacting releases, Freedia has become one of the strongest voices from the South, in part thanks to Big Freedia Bounces Back on Fuse TV, a weekly docu-series that’s been on for six seasons and become the network’s highest rated original series.
In addition to living life as a member of the LGBTQ community, she’s consistently used her music to lift listeners of all gender and sexual identity, using music as a bridge to unite. “I'm a voice for different communities,” she says. “Live your life and live the best way you know how. Love whoever you choose to love. Be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do. It's a much broader mission for me to encourage people all over—not just the LGBTQ community but heterosexuals as well to live out they life loud and proud.”
A former choirboy, Freedia cut her teeth on the bounce circuit in New Orleans, quickly garnering national acclaim and becoming a staple on the touring circuit. In the past, she’s dazzled crowds at festivals spanning Outside Lands to FYF, as well as sprinkled her Bounce magic on songs from Diplo, Spank Rock, Galactic and Elliphant. She’s shared her life in other facets of media as well, including the critically-acclaimed memoir Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva! on Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster.
But at the core, Bounce music is where Freedia got her start, and where she continues to touch people most. “When people come to visit New Orleans, it's an infectious city: the culture, the people, the food, the whole city,” she says. “We have so many talented musicians here and people want to taste a little piece of it every time they go somewhere. Bounce is getting ready to keep making a part of history and keep opening doors for the music industry. We are on our rise to people recognizing the music that has been captivating for so long locally here in New Orleans, and now the world has got a taste. It's just so infectious, baby.”
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