Big Freedia is famous in New Orleans for being the queen of bounce — but even if you’ve never danced down Bourbon Street yourself, her influence has been injected into mainstream music too.
“It feels really good to be the ambassador of bounce music,” Big Freedia told In The Know. “And to see the culture spread out to the world.”
When you Google ‘bounce music,’ Big Freedia is the first artist suggestion that pops up. Bounce is an energetic style of hip-hop and is characterized by its classic call-and-response-style lyrics. Bounce has a significant overlap with LGBT hip-hop and not only has been a staple sound for the city of New Orleans, but for the LGBTQ+ community as well.
Big Freedia has been working at spreading New Orleans culture and bounce music for over 20 years. She says she became drawn to creative outlets as a scapegoat while growing up Black and gay in New Orleans.
“It wasn’t something that was so accepted. Family members whispered about it, had meetings about it,” Big Freedia said. “You know, people in the neighborhood would tease me, I would have to fight at school.”
If it hadn’t been for Big Freedia’s mom, the future would have looked very different.
“To get through all of that, you have to be real strong. And my mom, who was my biggest cheerleader, was saying, ‘You better get back there and fight them and show them who you are.'”
After tragically losing her mom, uncle and brother, Big Freedia turned to music to get through the heartbreak she was dealing with from missing her biggest supporters.
“Giving love to the world, I guess, is how I get through,” Big Freedia said. “Music is a way to relieve all of that.”
Big Freedia’s success with producing bounce music has made her a hot commodity in other musical genres too. She has songs with Ru Paul, Drake, Beyoncé, Kesha and Lizzo, to name a few.
“It gives us a chance to step into other genres of music,” Big Freedia said. “They love the sound, they love the energy, they love the lyrics, they love the dance moves and they have finally caught it.”
To learn more about bounce music, New Orleans culture and the queen herself Big Freedia, watch the full episode of In The Know: Profiles above.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like to read about the Caribbean star spearheading a new era of Soca music.
More from In The Know: