Pensacola, Florida
Saturday November 22nd 2014

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New Orleans Rap Travels East

By Hana Frenette

Working nine to five at the interior design shop and then going home to change for a performance of dance infused hip-hop designed specifically for intense gyrating of the gluteus maximus is just another day for New Orleans based bounce star Big Freedia.

“I have a joy and passion for interior design,” Big Freedia said. “But I have been musically inclined all my life.”

Freedia has been singing since childhood and was involved with the church choir up until high school, when she became the choir director. Then Freedia went straight from the choir to the club.

“In 1998, I met Katy Red, the first transsexual male rapper,” Freedia said. “I started performing with Red and then I started doing some of my own songs.”

By 2000, Freedia had officially started her solo project.

Some of Freedia’s singles include songs, “Azz Everywhere!” and “Gin in My System.”

The style of the music is bounce, which originated in New Orleans and has been thriving there, slightly under the radar, for over 20 years. It’s mostly dance music sampled over beats, with a call and response type dynamic. Lyrics, if any, are very short and usually reference sex or a ward in New Orleans, which may be responsible for the lack of the style really taking hold anywhere else.

“After Katrina, New Orleans was receiving a lot of attention,” Freedia said. “People heard about bounce music and wanted to know about it and what it was.”

Other people started asking questions about bounce music, too, like The New York Times. The Times met up with Freedia in 2010 and published a lengthy feature in The New York Times Magazine detailing a night of several hectic performances of Freedia’s and the atmosphere at each location.

“The New York Times really helped me out a lot,” Freedia said. “The attention from it gave me that little push to really invest in myself and take the time to really do this.”

Since then Freedia has been performing, recording videos, creating merchandise and building the Big Freedia brand, which includes a virtual booty shaking game called “Booty Battle,” available at bigfreedia.com. You get to choose your character and by pushing a variety of keys, make that character dance to one of Freedia’s songs and hopefully, out shake the computer generated opponent. If you win, you get a free download of a Freedia song.

“Even if you can’t shake your ass in real life, you can do it on the computer with your finger,” Freedia said.

With so many new ideas and projects coming up, Freedia doesn’t have a lot of spare time. But when she does, there’s usually just one thing she wants to do.

“I like to be at home, and just watch movies or hang out with my mom at her house,” Freedia said. “You know, sometimes I just want to get in my bed, baby, and just relax.”

For those of you who agree with Freedia and just want to get in bed, Freedia now offers the perfect pair of boy short underwear – perfect for lounging at home or shaking your butt on stage.

“They are 100 percent ass certified,” Freedia said. “We’ll be selling all kinds of our new merchandise at Hangout – shirts, posters, booty shorts – a little of everything.”

A new album is also in the works for Freedia. “I’m in my writing stage right now,” Freedia said. “We’ve got all kinds of little secrets in the works.”

In the meantime, Freedia is getting ready for her performance at Hangout, during what might be the hottest part of the day.

“The heat in the south is no joke, baby,” Freedia said.

Maybe everyone should just save themselves the extra sweat and wear the booty shorts right from the start.

BIG FREEDIA AND THE DIVAS
Sunday 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Xbox Stage