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Big Freedia

Big Freedia Welcomes Listeners to Central City

The New Orleans dance icon mixes a hip-hop edge into her bounce framework in an ode to the neighbourhood she grew up in.

by Ben Boddez

The closing track on New Orleans bounce pioneer Big Freedia’s latest album finds her announcing her plans to tap into the power of voodoo to enchant anyone on the dancefloor to shake as much as they can. Honestly, listening through the rest of her endlessly fun, frequently hilarious and captivatingly experimental spins on the genre she brought to the mainstream – racking up collabs with artists like Drake, Beyonce and Lizzo – proves that she could easily do it without any supernatural aid.

Announced as an ode to the New Orleans neighbourhood of Central City where she grew up surrounded by hip-hop, Freedia has termed the “invigorated, hip-hop inspired energy” that shakes up her usual sound as a new genre entirely – “bigga bounce.” It means that we get rumbling bass and punctuating hi-hats that are mixed as well as the most dancefloor-filling hip-hop hits, but arriving as furiously as the high tempos and complex beat patterns that would typically support Freedia’s chopped-up, raucous calls to live like there’s no tomorrow. The most mind-bending part of the album is how frequently the instrumentals switch up and add new elements to match Freedia’s inexhaustible energy supply – which peaks at the impossibly hard-hitting “Big Foot”, the beat exploding into some dubstep-style synths as Freedia growls about stomping through your city looking for cash.

Racking up guest stars like Lil Wayne, Ciara, and Kelly Price – who brings the stellar vocals she’s known for while offering a feel-good hook on self-love anthem “Motivate Ya” – Freedia remains the star of the show, every word delivered with the inflection of someone that knows they’re the most interesting person in the room. If you’re the kind of person to appreciate the humour in taking a break for a rapped Pepto-Bismol jingle – because “this album is the shit” – you won’t find a better party.