Big Freedia is the self proclaimed Queen of Bounce. From her ability to make you get up and shake your rear end—while simultaneously entertaining you with all her fun antics and interesting story line on her Fuse reality show, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce (its fifth season premieres tonight, June 8). She has definitely put the Bounce genre of music on the map. Not to mention, the show surpassed every show on the network with its ratings.
Amid the success of her show, when things felt like they couldn’t get any better, they did. On Feb. 6, Beyonce blessed the world with a video for her new single “Formation,” and in it Big Freedia makes a cameo lending her penmanship and southern drawl to Bey’s ode to blackness. “I did not come to play with you hoes, haha/ I came to slay, b***h/ I like cornbreads and collard greens, b***h/ Oh, yes, you besta believe it,” she raps.
Yet as things were starting to blossom, Freedia encountered some legal issues. She awaits trial for a June 16 date for charges of theft of government funds. From 2010-2014, she lied about her income, and received $34,000 in low-income housing vouchers. According to court documents, Freedia received $695 a month in rent subsidies and claimed her assets were (or less than) $250 each year. She plead guilty.
Still, the show must go on. And before the mishap, VIBE caught up with her back in February where she dished out on what you can expect on this new season, and what it was like working with Bey. “It’s going to be fun and exciting for everybody,” she said of the new season. “We are in the taping now and they’re catching all the fun stuff now. Everything you saw with me in the past few months that is coming ahead is going to be very interesting. We’re going to have a show that will be glued to your damn seat. “
VIBE: I saw on Twitter that you mentioned that you started working at Burger King and now you’re in this position. Tell me about that journey.
Big Freedia: I was young so when I had that job at Burger King, I was still in high school and I just needed to help out my mom. And help myself because I needed to buy some of my clothes. I did that for about three years and I had became a shift manager working at Burger King, doing my thing. I was young and excited to make my own money.
Then I wanted to go to college out of town. And I started to get all of my sh*t together and go to college in Lafayette and leave home, so I had to leave Burger King as well and focus on my studies. As all of that was happening so much was still going on at the same time in my transition from being a choir director and being in church every week to going to college in a different state. And most of all, my friend Katy Red who jumped in the bounce game in 98,’ started getting popular I would help her out on the weekend.
Once I was background for Katy for two years, I started my own solo project but I was always into music as a teenager. Choir director, sang in the choir, I taught high school choir even. After I left school, I was just really working trying to have my hands into everything.
What did you major in?
Nursing and business.
Did you get to finish?
I’m close to finishing, but no I didn’t finish. Because like I said once I came back home, the bounce just really took off. Katy was already getting popular. And then once I came back it was just on and popping.
Was it a hard transition for you to make from being so heavily involved in the church to now doing bounce music?
Yes, very much so, being that I was a very respected choir director and every body in the city knew me from being in church since very, very small. So it was a big transition for me to go into bounce music, and once I got comfortable with myself and my mother and God everything else didn’t matter.
So what does bounce music mean to you and why do you think it’s beyond just twerking?
Well bounce music to me is definitely a culture, that was definitely struck in New Orleans. Everybody’s place has their own certain type of dance or style. Bounce music is from New Orleans. It’s up-tempo heavy base. It has a lot to do with a** shaking but we also have different styles of dances. It has to do a lot more than just twerking. It’s feel good music; it makes people have a good time. It doesn’t matter what type of situation they’re in, we bounce all around New Orleans. Weddings, birthday parties, funerals. The whole nine yards, and it’s a happy music, it turns people from a frown to a happy smile. I’m just happy to represent New Orleans and the culture that I represent.
Why do you dismiss the term “Sissy Bounce”?
Because there is no such thing. When we started doing music, we just call it bounce music. We don’t separate it. We have some gay artists that represent the culture, but it’s just a stupid term. It also offends all the straight artists, who are not gay. So when certain people come up to them and say, ‘What you do is sissy bounce.’ And they be like, ‘I’m not gay, I don’t do no damn sissy bounce.’ So I also have to take heat for that as well. It offends my other fellow bounce artists who have been in the game for a very long time. Someone just came up with the term and I started correcting it.
Do you consider yourself an activist for the LGBT community?
Oh, most definitely. I have a platform to be able to speak on. I’m a voice that everybody listens to, so I guess I could speak for the community and represent them in the best way that I know how.
How do you think you’ve changed the mindsets of those in the hip-hop community?
I’ve grown, I’ve gotten smarter, I’ve gotten wiser in every angle of the things I do. My shows have grown, my fans have grown. Just my whole knowledge and the whole hip-hop world have grown.
Do you feel because of that knowledge, you’re able to get more respect?
Oh definitely. I mean you have to work hard to earn respect and make people respect you. When I come to the presence of any room or any place, people give me the most high respects and I’m gracious and appreciative of that. It has definitely grown because trust me, back then they didn’t have no gay artists. If there was an artist that was gay it was very harsh; it was something that came around at the wrong time. But we’re very much evolving within this world.
Regardless of the growth I still think more needs to be done. What do you think that is?
Yes, definitely. There is always room for growth especially within the hip-hop community so there is always room for us to keep breaking barriers, and breaking doors down. So I’m steadily working hard everyday to keep knocking the door down or a barrier for another artist like myself to get through and get their message and their music out there. And enjoy the world of being in a hip-hop world and the music industry.
How did you feel when you first got that call from Beyonce’s publicist?
When she gave me the call, I was humbled. She explained to me what was going on, what she was trying to do and what she wanted me to do. I was at home; I just died in my own bed and came to life. The next day I went and did what I had to do and three days later I heard myself on the song. I was just blown away. I was just very grateful, humbled and just overwhelmed by the whole situation. It was a shock to me. I’m still in shock. It seems so surreal, that it even happened.
Will we see that all unravel on the show?
You gotta watch to see, baby. Can’t tell you too much.
What else can we expect from you music-wise?
My new album is coming out you have to check it out, it will be a mixture of things. It will still have some hardcore bounce tracks, I’ll have a little mix there, I’ll have a little singing. I’m working to try to cross over even bigger so I have a variety of sounds and styles that will be coming on this new album.
Who are some artist you’d like to work with?
There are tons of artists I’d like to work with. People I grew up listening to as a kid to people I listen to now. Anywhere in that range from Patti Labelle to Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga. There is a whole bucket list of people.
Besides your new album, what is next for you?
I’m working on a whole lot. I got a whole Freedia bucket list that I’ll always continue to work on. I’m going to be in more movies this year. I have new music, I’m working on some other projects, my cooking book. All kinds of stuff. I’m always working and coming up with new and fresh ideas to keep my fans engaged and keep myself relevant. So you’ll definitely see a lot more me. And a lot of what I to come in the next year or so.