In case you aren’t aware, “Diva” is the female version of a hustler, and Bounce-rapper Big Freedia is one Queen Diva. We’ve seen entire audiences – men, women and children – capitulating to her hard-hitting rhymes, provocative back-up dancers and stupefying trademark rump-shaking move.
Big Freedia didn’t define Bounce music – a vein of hip-hop that originated in the New Orleans projects – but she’s at the helm of its recent rise, specifically the derivative “Sissy Bounce”, sissy being the moniker for biological men with varied and ambiguous sexual identities. Born male as Freddie Ross, she’s been a mainstay in New Orleans clubs since dubbing herself Big Freedia and wowing crowds with her performances that showcase the fun and open genre known for featuring overtly gay and cross-dressing subject matter. The sound is a specific one, defined by a heavily rhythmic, repetitive beat and call and response refrain -each song keeps you literally bouncing up and down for the entire set.
Though she’s been grinding for a long time, Freedia’s sexually charged themes and booty-licious stage parades were ripe for the viral video craze of the modern internet age. Freedia released An Ha, Oh Yeah in 1999 but it wasn’t until Big Freedia Hitz Vol. 1 dropped in 2010 that she really began to pick up steam outside of New Orleans and videos began popping up all over the internet demonstrating her energetic performances and infectious anthems. Mainstream success followed with a feature in the New York Times, guest appearances on HBO’s Treme and several key spots in major festivals.
We’re not sure how Freedia makes the time for her own interior decorating business on top of everything else, but that’s exactly what she runs back in New Orleans, and we think it only makes sense; this boundary-shattering entertainer not only inspires those that admire her musical and personal values, but aesthetically, she’s a whole other force to be reckoned with.