Big Freedia Talks Working Hard, Twerking Harder - Rolling Stone
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All Hail the Queen! Big Freedia Talks Working Hard, Twerking Harder

Queen of Bounce also talks about the first time he met Miley Cyrus

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New Orleans bounce music icon Big Freedia, who’s toured and collaborated with everyone from the Postal Service to RuPaul and has been kicking open doors for bounce artists and LGBT artists since 1999, returns this Wednesday night for a third season of Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, the top-rated TV show on the Fuse network. The show has catapulted Freedia from the underground to the mainstream; he even set a Guinness World Record for twerking during Season 2. And Season 3 will surely have him twerking overtime.

This week, Freedia made time in his busy schedule to come by Yahoo Music and discuss his culture, his style, his late mother, his opinion on Miley Cyrus’s twerking, and the many misconceptions surrounding him and his music. As the questions bounced off him, no pun intended, these were some of the highlights of the chat…

On promoting New Orleans culture:

“[Queen of Bounce] has definitely put New Orleans and the culture of bounce music on the map. So I’m very excited to be representing the hometown…. [My music] originated from New Orleans: the sound, the feeling, the movements. It’s huddled around New Orleans like there’s no other. I’m very excited about where the music came from and where it is now.”

On bounce music vs. “sissy bounce”:

“When I describe bounce music, it’s uptempo, heavy bass, a lot of call and response…There’s a lot of butt-shaking going on, a lot of twerking and bouncing… [But] there’s no such thing as ‘sissy bounce.’ We just call it bounce music in New Orleans. We have gay rappers, we have straight rappers, but we don’t distinguish if it’s a certain type of bounce. We all bounce, we all do the same thing. It was just an article that came out a long time ago that was titled ‘Sissy Bounce.’ And it was like, ‘No, where did this come from? X this out, this not the way it’s supposed to be.’ And it offends the straight the artists in New Orleans when people come up to them and say, ‘Oh, you do sissy bounce,’ when they’re not a gay artist. So there is no such word as ‘sissy bounce.'”

On the challenges of being an openly gay male rapper:

“Well, right now I’m not really facing any challenges but to keep my music alive, keep my music hot, and keep my movement going! That’s the only challenge I face when I wake up every day. But as far as any negativity with any other artist out there, no.”

On how audiences have become much more accepting since Big Freedia debuted in 1999:

“Definitely, [there’s been] lots of progression. Lots of change. Lots of things have happened since I’ve started, where I feel the music has grown. The community has grown with the music, and the people have opened up and are being way more open-minded than when I first started.”

On winning over different audiences:

“The interesting thing about that is I like to cross over to whatever comes in front of me. I have a lot of different bands I’ve traveled with, toured with. I like to shock all the different audiences. Even if it’s not my audience, about the time I get done, I have picked up half of those fans. That’s what’s important: just keep picking up fans, opening up to a lot of different audiences, and keep drawing those fans into the Big Freedia movement.”

On the misconceptions about him:

“The only thing out there is usually people don’t know how to identify me. I identify in any kind of way they feel comfortable. If they want to say ‘he,’ ‘she,’ whatever. I’m me. So I’m comfortable with who I am, I’m comfortable in my own skin. People can feel free to come up to me in any way they choose and call me whatever.”

On Miley Cyrus popularizing twerking:

“I was excited about it on some levels, and I was upset about it on some levels as well. The homage didn’t get paid to the right people and the culture of New Orleans, where we bounce and have been shaking for many years. But I was also excited because I had been traveling the world for the last four to five years prior to that, making people aware of this dance move already. So it just felt like all of my hard work has finally paid off when it started trending. It puts me in a better position and a better light.”

On meeting Miley:

“We talked, and she definitely wanted some twerking tips. I was definitely a little rejected of giving her twerking tips! It wasn’t like, ‘I’m going to give you twerking tips and you’re going to say thank you,’ or pay that respect that needs to be paid. It was like, [she was] going to take these tips and run with them and keep putting twerking on the map like this is [her] thing. So, it is what is.”

On inspiring fans:

“Oh yeah, [I get] lots of DM messages, a lot people hitting me on all of my different social medias telling me how I inspire them, how I’m doing something really great for the LGBT community, how I put people in different positions to be able to be themselves and just be free.”

On being musically inspired by his mother, whose illness and death was chronicled on Season 2 of his reality show:

“As a kid growing up, I listened to all different types of different music — especially when it was time to clean up, she would just be bumping the radio. When I was small, I was into gospel music. She always made sure she dropped me off at choir rehearsal, church, Sunday school. Everything involving music, she made sure she paid for it; she made sure I there on time. I was totally involved, so she kept me involved in everything musically with my career.”

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