The first thing that hits you is the bass, booming and almost deafening in its intensity. Then there are the booties, abundant and defiantly moving to the rhythm as sweat flies across the stage. A Big Freedia concert is more than a show, it is an experience
Bounce music has been going strong for years in the South, as has twerking and the New Orleans native helped bring this movement to the forefront of the music industry with his high-energy anthems that encourage everyone, no matter your age or size, to shake something and get loose. At his SXSW concert in Austin earlier this year, I watched as fans from all backgrounds got lost in their own sweat and the bass, with Freedia and his dancers giving people the kind of energy in a show you could only dream of seeing. And his new album promises to deliver that sweet, sweat-tinged bounce to listeners all across the world.
Just Be Free will be released June 17 on Freedia's label, Queen Diva Music. The second season of his reality show, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, will debut June 11 at 10 p.m. CT on FUSE TV. EBONY chatted with the music star about the legacy of his mother Vera, who passed away this year, and the power of bounce music.
EBONY: Your new album is called Just Be Free. What does freedom mean to you, and how have you grown as an artist with this album?
BIG FREEDIA: Freedom to me can be so many things; freedom to be myself, to express myself and do the things I want to do, freedom to go in any direction I want to go in order to accomplish my goals. I’ve grown in tremendous ways with enhancing my music, my ability to perform on stage and travel all around to spread bounce music. I’ve come so far from being that little black boy growing up in New Orleans to now.
EBONY: You were twerking long before Miley Cyrus made the news. Why do you think people have become so obsessed with it?
BF: It showed a different race doing the movement and it shocked people, to see a White girl shaking her a**. It made a bold statement for her platform and helped her to become a bigger star by appropriating Black culture.
EBONY: Your concerts are always full of energy. Describe your most memorable concert experience or interaction with a fan.
BF: I was at PS One about two years ago in New York, and a girl in the audience was on a 20-foot pole twerking in the air. She caught my attention from afar and caught all of my fans attention, too. That was definitely a memorable moment. Everyone’s mouth dropped open and we just watched her popping on that pole.
EBONY: What is one surprising thing your fans may not know about you?
BF: I'm a beast in the kitchen. I like to make everything and I can really cook. That was one thing my mama instilled in me: to be well trained in the kitchen. Growing up, I was always in the kitchen with her. You name it, I make it: red beans and rice, lasagna, chicken, pork. I am the queen of cooking.
EBONY: Your relationship with your mother was beautiful to watch on your reality show, and I'm sure it was even more beautiful in real life. What is one of the most important lessons that your mother taught you that has helped you as a performer?
BF: To just be me, to just be free. To stand firm in who I am and to not care what people say or think. She’s always instilled that in me. As a child, when people would pick on me at school, she would send me right back with a lot of encouragement.
EBONY: What can viewers look forward to with the second season premiere of Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce?
BF: They can look forward to a new season of exciting things happening. I’m on my team a whole lot more this season to keep everything on point. It’s not a game and I’m not here to play. I’m here to make things happen for my team and me. Viewers will see my business operating in full force. I will share with them the loss of my mom this season, which is very close and dear to me. It will be a very touching and emotional season, full of laughter and drama---the whole nine yards.