Big Freedia goes back to her roots on the 16-track “Central City,” the Queen of Bounce’s first full-length studio album in nine years. Known for previous collaborations with Lizzo on “Karaoke” and Drake on “Nice for What” and for being sampled by Beyoncé on “Break My Soul,” Big Freedia grounds the album in her New Orleans heritage.
The Associated Press asked Big Freedia about the new album, explored the growing popularity of Bounce music and why playing in Tennessee on tour is so important to the artist.
This cover image released by Warner Music Group shows “Central City” by Big Freedia. (Warner Music Group via AP)
AP: Is this a big album for you?
BIG FREEDIA: I definitely think it means more. It definitely feels bigger. It feels like I dug deeper. And it’s been nine years since I put out an album. I did EPs for the last few years so this one is very special, and I’m excited about it and excited for the world to hear the new music.
AP: It’s got a great mix of styles, from gentle and fun like “$100 Bills” featuring Ciara to aggressive and hard like “Bigfoot.” and “El Niño,” featuring Lil Wayne and Boyfriend.
BIG FREEDIA: That’s what I wanted to do, for people to be able to see different sides of me and different feelings. I just wanted to do a mixture of things, from light and fun to heavy and hard to club bangers. And I think this album accomplished that.
AP: The album kicks off with “Central City Freestyle.” How did that come about?
BIG FREEDIA: “Central City Freestyle” is just exactly what it is. There was a beat that the producers put on in the studio, and I just actually started ripping on the beat and it turned out to be magic. We added a little static at the beginning, and it turned out to be something really dope.
AP: What is the meaning of the album title?
BIG FREEDIA: Central City is where I grew up in New Orleans, and I definitely wanted to bring back some old school hip-hop, old school sounds of Bounce music of New Orleans and kind of relate it to who I am now. Going from Big Freddy to Big Freedia was the feeling of creating this album and I wanted to just pay homage to New Orleans and the sounds of hip-hop that I grew up on.
AP: There are so many possible definitions of Bounce. Are there any rules?
BIG FREEDIA: No, there’s really no rules. It’s up-tempo, heavy bass, call-and-response, high energy ass shaking — it’s all of those things. There’s really no rules to it. You can get as cute and light and fun, and as raunchy and ratchet as you want. So there’s no limits to Bounce culture.
AP: Are you OK being the face of Bounce?
BIG FREEDIA: I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I think that just my hard work and determination over the years has led me to be the ambassador of it, and I’m grateful to be in that position. It allows me to be able to do many things with the Bounce community and also allows me to open doors and break barriers for other Bounce artists that was once me growing up.
AP: Do you think mainstream culture is embracing Bounce lately?
BIG FREEDIA: I definitely feel like things are opening up in so many different ways. I think people are recognizing and respecting who I am and what I do. And the mainstream has definitely been looking at Bounce culture for a while now. You see everybody want to do a little Bounce. Everybody wants to do a little twerk. So who’s better to call than the Queen?
AP: Bounce seems very embracing and welcoming, particularly to the LGBTQ+ community. But there’s been a recent spike in discriminatory legislation sweeping through statehouses. How does that make you feel?
BIG FREEDIA: It’s very disturbing to see that that’s happening in 2023 and that our leaders are still going backward instead of moving forward in order to help the LGBTQ community. We are really going backward in time instead of going future-forward. It’s just really a sad thing to see. And I think that us in all these different communities and especially our allies, we have to keep on fighting and keep on changing what the government is trying to do, because at the end of the day, we the community hold the power.
AP: Your upcoming tour stops in San Francisco, Denver, Detroit and Chicago but also stops in Tennessee, which is emerging as one of the most restrictive states when it comes to LGBTQ rights.
BIG FREEDIA: I am super-excited to perform in Tennessee and let them know that I’m not backing down. I think that people are going to come out and we’re going to really make a statement — just to let them know that you cannot stop what the community wants and what the community is fighting for. I’m super- excited just to go there and let my presence be known and seen, and my voice be heard and let them know that we are fighting with them and they are not alone.