Big Freedia: “Just Be Free” Album Review

Written By: Edward Ramjuse 

Big Freedia’s album “Just Be Free” was intended to facilitate her big break; it didn’t neglect the fans that we have followed her up to date. While she made some big strides as an artist, she also ensured to keep one foot planted firmly in the style that some of us consider nearly perfect. The album aimed squarely at an EDM audience that so far had somehow eluded Freedia, despite the fact that bounce had steadily grown in that world’s presence. To those in the know, there was legitimate concern that her new fan base might had been motivated by the novelty of the latter aspects, but Freedia’s powerful, indelible charisma nonetheless transformed rooms full of normally staid indie rockers into a mob of sweaty, ass-shaking maniacs.

Her music was full of uplifting, intense sentiments that worked perfectly for turn-up mode, but there was little personal detail or narrative voice introduced. She embraced the textures of contemporary EDM – wet snares, buzz-saw synchs, the special conquering trance melody – but the feeling was unmistakably bounce throughout. The music itself was built, above all, upon rhythms. Freedia’s vocal style was deep and booming, which made the woman moaning in pleasure on a track like “Dangerous” a welcome vocal foil to Freedia’s own rich voice. The emergence of this free-for-all sexual dance and music scene flourished as a form of rebellion against decades, even centuries, of abuse, and it grew into a punishing, victorious onslaught.

Turn Da Beat Up” expanded Freedia’s sonic vocabulary to include Prodigy-style break beats, steep bass drops, blatting low brass, and a four-on-the-floor breakdown which invoked both house music and arena-rock. “Dangerous” was decorated with filter sweeps, dub steeply synch bubbles, and sub bass tuned for a large-scale sound systems. “Lift Dat Leg Up” had the epically scaled melody suited for the apex of a big-room DJ set. Most notably, the album’s led single “Explode” was a riot of over clocked drum machines and Freedia’s joyously hollered commands to lose you in her music. Just the idea of hearing it in a DJ set was enough to make you sweat. Y’Tootsay” and “Mo Azz” both focused explicitly on the ass in a celebratory, affirmative manner, which urged everyone to throw themselves into the music with abandon. That was the crux of this brief barrage of beats and booty anthems.

Just Be Free was a lot more polished, it hit just as hard. She embraced the textures of contemporary EDM – wet snares, buzz-saw synchs, and the occasional triumphant trance melody – but the feel was unmistakably bounced throughout. Even the occasional rhythmic detour was always precision-made to make you shake your rump.

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