New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Big Freedia: in Bounce Mode


New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and jazz sounds and resonates in its streets. As expected, in such a creative city, new styles and irreverent acts emerge. Visiting the Big Easy, we ventured out to discover Bounce hip hop.

In the most different dimensions, the Shows succeed one another, renew and reinforce New Orleans' global notoriety. During the days we spend in the city, one of many takes place.

Named the Fried Chicken Festival, the event imposes an imaginary that is more gastronomic than musical. In the Crescent City, the two components have long gone side by side. They have become an unavoidable recipe.

On the way to the event, we walked along Franklin Avenue, from the outskirts of the historic center, north, towards Lake Pontchartrain, one of several lakes north of the city, separated from the Gulf of Mexico by mere winding canals. We enter with the sun saying goodbye and providing a more suitable lit gloom.

We cross a community of trailers and other disposable establishments, especially food and drink establishments. Beer and, as expected, fried chicken reigned. Using up the last of our energy, we chose, before anything else, to have dinner in an area also dedicated to the press.

They serve us jambalaias. We accompanied them with margaritas. Next, we moved to as close to the stage as possible.

The Red Sample. An Exciting Sample of New Atlanta Music

Performing is The Red Sample, a band from Atlanta that saw the birth of Outkast, Ludacris and Lil Baby but, so adorned and sounded by a tuba duo, that we think it's from New Orleans.

Red Sample keeps the audience enthusiastic and, for the most part, dancing.

After an interval of refilling drinks animated by a DJ, Big Freedia, the house artist, appears on stage, the pride of a crowd of Orleanians and North Americans who live somewhere on the border of sexuality.

Big Freedia is the stage name of Freddie Ross Jr., born in 1978 in New Orleans.

Big Freedia. Queen of Bounce Hip-Hop

Like so many other US stars, Freddie had his baptism and initial musical training in the choir of a local church. New Orleans' liberal orientation and open-mindedness allowed him to advance in the choir at the university he attended.

So appreciated and respected that he became its director, an unlikely appointment in most of Louisiana and the conservative United States that surrounds The Big Easy.

Freddie Ross's musical adventure was just beginning.

In interviews, Freddie confessed that, at first, he felt panicked about performing, that he had to force himself to do it repeatedly, with discomfort, until he felt comfortable.

Well, just a few meters from the stage, in spaces, almost under the amplifiers, we see the enormous Big Freedia, owner of a thunderous voice with a slight effeminate polish, asserting himself and his music with the determination and security he has become accustomed to. to neutralize the inevitable controversies.

Big Freedia made a point of clarifying to the website The Root: “If you knew that Queen (in her autobiography) “God Save the Queen Diva” would generate so much confusion, he had called me “king”. Now, the same has long been true of Freedia and her fluid sexuality.

In 2004, on one of the streets in New Orleans, in front of a friend's house, a random white teenager shot his car.

The fact that he raised an arm to protect his head saved him from dying. One of the bullets in the same arm remains and causes pain.

Bounce the Night Out

Shortly after Big Freedia took over the stage, flanked by her tireless dancers, we were confronted with a rhythmic display of how much had changed in her 45 years of life.

How she became an idolized character, especially among a community that is passionate about bounce, a wagging of the hips and tail that evolved from a post-tribal form of dance into an almost way of life.

On this occasion, Big Freedia performs at a height of 1.90m (or almost), with a microphone very close to her mouth, held by hands with long nails, covered in diamonds.

Their vigorous, almost aggressive singing dictates the rhythm at which the dancers dance. Not only.

We had already noticed that a community of women had gathered on one side of the stage. At a certain point, Big Freedia leaves them behind and activates excerpts of themes and bounce rhythms. His dancers open hostilities.

Therefore, Big Freedia invites women everywhere to show off their own bounces, without ceremony or shyness. A few show the bodies and elasticity of athletes.

As happens among the inhabitants of New Orleans and the USA in general, others – in fact too many – perform bounces and twerks with exaggerated excess weight.

No less committed.

They give us access to the photographers’ space again. We see ourselves almost beneath the swaying and vibrant tails of the ecstatic women, and that of Shantoni Xavier, the male dancer of the trio who animates Big Freedia's performance, slender, sculptural, agile, with exuberant effeminate movements.

In each individual exhibition, Big Freedia and the group around her point out, encourage and celebrate the featured participant.

In doing so, they glorify Bounce, another style (or rather, sub-style) of southern hip hop from the United States that is said to have been born in New Orleans.

The Orleanian Genesis of Bounce Hip Hop

Bounce hip hop emerged more than two decades ago, an estimated two years after the birth of Freddie Ross Jr., noticed in development in the newly built public housing neighborhoods of New Orleans.

What started to distinguish Bounce from other forms of hip-hop was how it generated festive call-response rituals, with a singer or speaker setting the rhythm and choreography.

And a group or crowd of participants responding with certain movements.

Unsurprisingly, the young people of New Orleans quickly added traditional indigenous songs and dance calls from the crazy days of Mardi Gras, often with strong sexual content.

The sounds and rhythms that served and still serve as the basis for the development of Bounce Hip Hop come from themes such as “Triggerman Beat”, “Drag Rap” by the Showboys and “Brown Beats” by Cameron Paul.

On this basis and other comparable ones, Bounce Hip Hop becomes agitated and complicated.

In certain cases, singers and DJs resort to whistling and shouting that evoke neighborhoods in greater New Orleans and even its social projects.

Bounce itself became a multi-project, over the years, launched, promoted and marketed by dozens of record labels.

From time to time, Big Freedia and other Bounce protagonists: DJ Jimo, Hot Boy Ronald, Juvenile, DJ Jubilee, Partners-N-Crime and Magnolia Shorty, among others, shout “Break!!”

This punctuates the themes and samples, full of repetitions, reverberations and vocal encodings that, sounding like pneumatic hammers, dictate the speed of the oscillation of hips and tails, the praised bounce that we watched, that we photographed, between trance and disbelief. .

Behind us, an ecstatic crowd, especially women, sang, danced, twerked and bounced. Instead of the usual lyrics full of “bitches","cover” and the like sung by the most famous hip-hoppers, Big Freedia, sings, with obvious hostility, about disappointing boyfriends and lovers.

Now, these are letters and complaints that women find themselves in and that they are happy to follow.

As we saw throughout the city, New Orleans preserves intact its appreciation of gay, transvestite, drag and other artists, generally despised by conservative Americans.

Despite the four decades that have passed, New Orleans remains the World Capital of Bounce, in a dynamic environment that frequently intersects with the city's also prolific LGBT hip hop.

Big Freedia, in particular, has capitalized on the admiration that New Orleans and liberal America feel for him. In 2011, he was named “Best Emerging Artist” and Best Hip-Hop/Rap Artist by Best of the Beat Awards from Off Beat magazine.

Two years later, a US cable channel dedicated an entire reality show who followed his life on tour and at home.

In 2022, Beyonce once again included the voice of Big Freedia, highlighted in her hit “Break My Soul”

HOW TO GO

Book the flight Lisbon – Miami (Florida), United States, with TAP: flytap.com for from €820.

From Miami, you can take the connection to New Orleans (1h30) for, from €150, round trip.

 

Where to stay:

The Mercantile Hotel:

themercantilehotelneworleans.com

Tel.: +1 504 558 1914-1914

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