Big Freedia the Queen Diva rules New Orleans six nights of the week, but this past weekend she took her joie de vivre to New York and performed at four different venues in three days. After flying in from the Crescent City early Saturday afternoon, she and her partner-in-crime DJ Rusty Lazer played at PS1’s Warm Up party, and then Greenpoint’s Coco 66 later that night. The next day, Freedia and crew were secret special guests at the Jelly Pool Party’s last concertof the season—or possibly ever—alongside Cool Kids, DMC (of Run-DMC), Andrew W.K., Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington, Doug E. Fresh and Gucci Mane. Not to mention Delorean and Dominique Young Unique, the only acts officially scheduled on the bill. Lastly, Freedia joined mainstay Roxy Cottontail and Dances With White Girls for a performance and dance party at Sway Monday night. And this is just the beginning of a two-week-plus tour.
Big Freedia, with her dyed purple bangs, electric voice and fashion-forward accessories is part of the burgeoning New Orleans-based bounce music scene, which consists of emceees rapping over a standardized beat often simply referred to as “that beat.” The “bounce” scene is somwhat divided between straight and “sissy” (queer and transgender) rappers. And the branch Freedia is associated with is often—somewhat controversially—referred to as “sissy bounce,” though Freedia herself doesn’t mind the title.“I don’t have a problem with it being titled sissy bounce. Some of the straight artists at home may be offended by it, but I keep telling them . . . it’s only a question—Do you do sissy bounce? No, I do straight bounce,” Freedia said.“The title is what’s getting [us] attention. And that’s a good thing for us,” Freedia added.
When Freedia performs, though her name often stands on its own, she is not alone on stage. Joining her for this tour are frequent collaborators DJ Rusty Lazer, who also acts as a tour manager of sorts, pro booty shaker Altercation, one of Freedia’s top dancers, and Melvin Foley, who is Freedia’s official behind-the-scenes manager. While Freedia and company are just recently making a splash in the press, they have been an integral part of the bounce scene for a long time. Though Freedia would never put it this way, it’s about time she is getting the recognition she deserves for all her hard work. “It’s still in the beginning processes and I’m just being humble and taking it one day at a time. When it comes . . . I just want to be able to accept it and do it,” Freedia said.
Freedia’s show at Coco 66 Saturday night resembled most of her shows—packed with an energized and sweaty crowd ready to dance and lose themselves in the music. “Oh my god, I had a blast! At the museum and at Coco 66. It was like, I was ready. I had gone to sleep the night before and just lay up in my bed, so ready. I was like, let’s do it…make the people jump. The people gave me the energy. It was unbelievable,” Freedia said.
Though Freedia is known for her music, she is quite an empassioned wordsmith as well. In her writing, she is fearless, pouring herself and her emotions into her lyrics. The same goes for her performance on stage: She wants her audience to have a good time and enjoy themselves. “I hope that when [fans] leave my show, they’ll be able to say they had a wonderful time,and were able to express themselves, dance and let some steam off. So just basically, you know, enjoying themselves and enjoying what I do.”
One of Freedia’s goals for this tour is to try and score a record deal so she can be heard on a bigger, national scale. “The main thing is to keep getting more exposure,” Freedia said. It doesn’t sound like it’ll be too much of a problem, as plans are currently being made to keep Freedia busy touring through most of the fall into the winter. “Just be looking for me in the future for more good music. We’re changing things up and bringing some bigger, better and brighter ideas to the table,” Freedia said.
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