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Music

Exploit & empower: Big Freedia's hip-hop alchemy

Posted by Emily Hill / February 1, 2013

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Y'all. It was Big Freedia's birthday Monday night. So we effin' celebrated.

People were pulled on stage. Clothes were shed in layers. Dancers were literally climbing the walls. Big Freedia's song "Azz Everywhere" paints an anatomically accurate picture. Dancing to New Orleans bounce is unlike any other night at the club. You're not dancing for diversion, for attention, for the hot bartender... You're dancing for Freedia.

Leaning over her back-up dancers like a swim coach, she repeated "Slap the flo'! Make yo' booty go!" With nearly 15 audience members on stage, she barked into the microphone, "Hands on the floor! Hands on the floor!" Everyone bent over obediently, cheeks raised into the stage lights. Freedia paused between songs to scoop up a pair of house keys from the stage. Someone had danced them out of their pocket. "Here ya go, baby!" she said, tossing them into someone's outstretched hands. 

The bounce BPM is so incalculably fast, your body moves almost despite itself. When Freedia herself shook it, she sent the sequins on her back pockets reflecting in kaleidoscopic wonder. The muscle isolation it takes to rotate your ass cheeks in separate revolving movements is truly mesmerizing. Hetero males filmed with their iPhones. Crouched dancers gripped monitors, stools, bar tables - anything for balance as they thunderclapped. The DJ dropped "Na Who Mad" and the furor mounted. It was an environment of intense sexual exhibitionism and lewd voyeurism - but constructed in a surprisingly safe place. Freedia performs mystifying hip-hop alchemy, somehow striking a balance between exploitation and empowerment. While the onstage dancers and audience participants willingly show their inseam to the world, it's with a definitive "look but don't touch." 

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With so much flesh jiggling, the dance style seemed to steal Freedia's spotlight. That changed however when Freedia closed the show a cappella. Her rhythm was so melodic; her voice was so smooth. Her years as a choir director and a block party rapper were brought powerfully front-and-center. Following a roar of applause, Freedia gave a bashful hair toss. After plugging the merch ("Pick up a pair of #1 ass-verified Freedia booty shorts"), she said earnestly in her Louisiana drawl: "This is the first ever international bounce tour, and you guys came out in the motherfucking snow to support us. It's the best birthday present I could ask for - y'all are amazing!" We all clutched our sweaty chests in a collective "awwww." Although Freedia's ass quaking incited a hedonist riot, it was her heartfelt thank you that was the most seductive.


Photo courtesy of Big Freedia and

Discussion

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