Big Freedia

Just Be Free

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Take some of the world's more regressive territories out of the picture, and in the same way a rockabilly or reggae group will please the party crowd, a screaming drag queen vogueing over dance music comes with that universal appeal. That's at least when the diva house genre is firing on full-cylinders, like when everyone from the metal heads to the R&B kids were shouting "work!" whenever RuPaul hit the runway with "Supermodel." New Orleans' singer/screamer/rapper Big Freedia comes with that same kind of zest appeal, but this queen has an extra shot of edge and indie. As the Just Be Free album displays, Freedia is a leading artist in the world of bounce music, a twerk-tastic, New Orleans-spawned genre that mixes ghetto-tech, house music, hip-hop, and vicious putdowns scrawled in red lipstick on the gay bar bathroom mirror (either bathroom). The delicious "Ol' Lady" is a prime example as Freedia declares she's the "Ol' Lady, bitches, you crazy" in a voice that's like Bun B put on a housecoat and took over Big Momma's House. The speedy beat underneath pops like DJ Assault or Diplo on nitrous, while Freedia's vocals are layered like an infinity mirror of fierce, and while many of the other cuts follow this blueprint, she's got enough bitchy lyrics and sharp attitude to cut down ten seasons worth of Real Housewives of Wherevah. The music adjusts just enough as "Where My Queens At?" comes with Ying Yang Twins clap and "Y’Tootsay" rocks the planet rock like Kraftwerk were still on urban radio, then there's the closing and aptly titled "Mo Azz" which features a big bass bottom and a claustrophobic laptop soundscape. Weird, wonderful, and otherworldly stuff, as if Lil B. Lil Kim, Beenie Man, Beyonce, and Dr. Frank-N-Furter were spliced together with all their collective sass preserved, then piled high.

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