With a name basically synonymous with New Orleans culture, Big Freedia knows a thing or two about what draws visitors to her city, and where to find the local sounds, sights, and flavors that keeps them coming back again and again.
That’s why the Queen of Bounce was a natural choice for Jägermeister’s “Local Snapshot” campaign. Linking with artists steeped deeply in the culture of the hometowns they hail from, the German digestif liqueur is bringing that authentic community stories and genuine recommendations from the artists who know the city best. In the latest “Local Snapshot,” Big Freedia, the bounce music pioneer who has collaborated with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Drake and more, highlights the New Orleans spaces she loves and talks about what makes her city so special.
“We open our doors to people come here to visit and to hang out in New Orleans and feel the music, the culture, the food, and most importantly, the people who make up the city, and our southern hospitality,” Freedia said. “All those components make up New Orleans and it’s such a great place, there’s no place like it in the world.”
Nobody knows how great a place New Orleans is to visit more than we do here at ESSENCE, as it’s the site of our annual ESSENCE Festival of Music and Culture. However, as a native, Freedia has special insight and advice on spots every traveler should hit when they come to her town. On top of the mainstays like Café Du Monde (for their famous beignets) and the French Quarter (for its famous dining and partying experience), there are a few options that may not be as well known to a first-time visitor.
“There is JAMNOLA, a museum that’s made up of art from different local artists,” she continued. “It features things like a crawfish pot that you can stand in, and all types of beading on the floor of the museum. There’s big statues of myself, Lil Wayne, and Louis Armstrong.”
“There’s also Love on Claiborne, Claiborne street where there are just tons of clubs and restaurants and local food spots like Manchu Chicken – the little purple store on the corner where everybody loves their fried chicken.”
And for those who do enjoy the Fresh Quarter, Freedia says there’s more than meets the eye than the main strip on Bourbon.
“Frenchmen Street, which is a little further back in the Quarter, there’s a lot of local venues that play all types of music. You might have a bounce concert going on Frenchmen, you might have a Jazz concert going on on Frenchmen,” she said. “People just love to go out to the club scene and see what’s happening, that gives them an opportunity to see what’s happening in the bounce world and how the DJs and the people interact.”
Speaking of the Bounce world, Freedia is an ambassador not only for her iconic city but for its signature sound that other genres are constantly borrowing from and imitating. Despite its staying power and influence, Bounce music and the dancing that goes along with it has a tendency to get a bad rap from some who see the genre as a raunchy expression, rather than a deeply cultural one. But this is criticism is one that Freedia simply lets roll off her back.
“Well, when I define Bounce music, it’s up-tempo, heavy base, call and response type music. It has a lot to do with dancing and moving the body parts, but it is local music that has been around for decades and it’s our tradition here,” she said. “No matter if they call it ratchet, or ghetto, or try to make it over-sexualized, [everyone from] babies to grandmothers loves to twerk and have fun, because it’s fun music.”
“It’s just a part of our culture, just like any other place that has [local] music that has been underground for so long in their city. It is no different than Go-Go or Chicago club music or any of the other local music that’s really out there.”
“Being that I’m at the forefront of it, I have always been able to change the
perception of what people feel about Bounce music,” she said. Indeed, her signature sound has led her to lend her voice to tracks with some of the top artists in the world.
“Every time I’m on a different song I’m still keeping the core of what I love to do in everything. So, if you got artists like Beyonce and Drake and Lady Gaga and so many more that love the sound, we don’t see anything wrong with keeping it bouncing.”
Besides keeping it bouncing with her upcoming tour with Trombone Shorty, she’s also bouncing into a new venture – in hospitality. Freedia has her very own boutique hotel opening soon in the city’s iconic French Quarter.
“It’s actually right around the Frenchmen area, which is kind of at the back of the Quarter. It only will have three hotel rooms and my restaurant will also be connected to it where people will have a chance to come in, taste Freedia’s recipes, and get the whole full New Orleans bounce experience,” she said.
“It will be a place where people can come if they want to have a cup of coffee in the morning and do some work on their computer, it will also be a great event space for people to come and have dinner,” she clarified.
“It also will turn into a club space where people could come and party and see a concert, ‘ she continued, referencing the pool that turns into a dance floor for events. “So many things will happen at Hotel Freedia that will definitely have all the locals and tourists stopping by to see what’s happening.”