Big Freedia Talks New Orleans Bounce, Gender Bending And Breaking Barriers

We love all things New Orleans here at Parlour and MC Big Freedia, breakout star of the Big Easy’s Bounce music, is one of our main squeezes. Especially since he was a pep squad member in high school like another NOLA MC, Mystikal.

“I went right after him, I was a cheerleader too,” says Freedia of his Walter L. Cohen High School days. “My favorite cheer was called ‘Superior’ and it’s in one of my songs as well, ‘Big Freedia On Top.’ ”

Born and raised in the New Orleans, Freedia began as a background singer for her best friend and partner in the duo, Big Freddy K Ready.

“I started as background for my friend Katy Red, the first transsexual male to come out in New Orleans, about fifteen years ago,” he says. “After a year and a half and we became Big Freddie K-Reddy and then I did my solo project An Ha, Oh Yeah.”

Realizing his time was better spent in the spotlight, Big Freedia blazed through NOLA’s party scene and created a name for himself both locally and nationally. Booking shows in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle and New York — where Shannon and I literally danced until we sweat through our clothes — he’s taken his style for booty shaking globally, including an upcoming show in Australia. And while many call Freedia’s music Sissy Bounce, he’s clear that the music has no sexual delineation and “Sissy” has it’s own identity.

“When we say say ‘sissy’ it means flamboyant male,” says Freedia.

Still, rapping as a gay man is pretty brave and Freedia bends the gender lines in his own way. Unlike trailblazer Katy Red, who performs in full drag, Freedia describes his look of Kelis-esque haircuts, pearls and sneakers as “boy half down and girl half up.”

“I’m 6’3″ and being so tall, it’s hard to wear bottoms for a girl because of my size,” says the MC who counts Chanel, Versace and Michael Kors as his favorite designers. “Also, as a male, I’ve got big feet so it’s hard to wear heels all the time. I get things that works for me.”

Tonight, Big Freedia will be the first Bounce artist to appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” at 12 p.m. EST/ 11 p.m. CT. He’s also releasing a new single called “Booty Whop” today (Jan. 25) and if you purchase a t-shirt at Freedia’s website BigFreedia.com you’ll receive his new mixtape Queen Diva: Bouncing Around The World for free via iTunes. Also, if you’re in New Orleans this weekend, join Freedia’s birthday weekend extravaganza boasting three parties, a performance at the local Offbeat Awards and more.

Here are Big Freedia’s upcoming concert dates:

01/26   Los Angeles,CA @ Bootleg Bar
02/4     Atlanta,GA @ The Earl
02/10   Balitmore, MD @ Gold West Cafe
02/24   Arcata, CA @ The Depot (Humboldt State University)
02/25   San Francisco, CA @ The Public Works
03/3     Avon, CO @ The Snowball Music Experience
03/8     Athens, OH @ The Union
03/9     Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
03/10   Detroit, MI @ The Works
03/17   Washington, DC @ Rock N Roll Hotel
03/18   New Orleans, LA @ Mardi Gras World

Check out Freedia’s newest video for “Na Who Mad” – I appreciate the use of The Luniz’s “I Got Five On It”:

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