Thursday, December 8th, 2011

AMNESTY 2011: Big Freedia – Y’all Get Back Now

Our secret goal for next year is to cover more Big Freedia singles than Drake singles.


Anthony Easton: I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough, To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough, To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough, To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment — what is this, then? I do not ask any more delight — I swim in it, as in a sea. There is something in staying close to men and women, and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well; All things please the soul — but these please the soul well. Whitman spent time in New Orleans, and he recognized the democratic potential there as well as any other place in America. As much as I love Big Freedia’s perfected, gorgeous, hyper-minimalist, discordant and avant-garde dance beats (and I do), what I love most is what she has done as well or better than other Americans: she’s taken the task of diversity, of strangeness, of celebration of the Other, of the erotic potential of loafing, of the spiritual pleasures of eroticism — and refused to contain it. This video — all races, all genders, all ages — is the grand Whitmanic prophecy renewed for an electronic age. Plus it is hyper super double plus fun to dance to.

Michaelangelo Matos: I’m smiling like such an idiot right now it isn’t funny.

Brad Shoup: There are a lot of things to love about bounce, some of which are mandatory, but the one I particularly like is the temporary victory won by the MC. Freedia’s gruff yaps dominate this track; “Drag Rap” makes its obligatory peek, but she’s clearly the prime mover here. Where the perpetually underrated Miami bass sound pelted its fans with thuds, breaks and backing chants, Freedia’s got it pared to a solo tightrope act. It’s such an exhausting genre — the longest set of hers I’ve seen was a festival slot that lasted maybe 40 minutes — that its current stage of cut-and-overlap evolution threatens to return the DJ to ascension. No stories, no explicit sexual agency: “Y’all Get Back Now” is about pure kinetics, a mutual dash toward release. 

Kat Stevens: Does Louisiana have a higher incidence of lower back problems than the rest of the US?

Jer Fairall: The lack of anything political or confrontational in what I’ve heard from her so far let me down at first, but this finally tips me off to just how unnecessary any of that would have been here anyway. Who needs a protest march when you have something so exuberant and infectious that it steamrolls over any and all cynicism, discomfort and cultural schisms? 

Katherine St Asaph: I could listen to Big Freedia say “now wait a minute” on loop for so long. This is empirically proven.

Iain Mew: Some kind of study in the rapid repetition of loud noises in a structureless fashion and the point at which they move from annoying to enjoyable. All the sounds eventually do, but I think I’d enjoy the song more if it literally was just “BOOM!” and explosion effects for three minutes.

Alfred Soto: Fun of the far-from-world-historic kind.

Sally O’Rourke: I thought I’d written Big Freedia off after “Almost Famous,” which tried too hard to be an actual song and thus got wearisome long before its 4.5 minutes were up. But “Y’all Get Back Now” has one goal in mind — to make you shake your ass — and cuts out anything that isn’t explicitly geared to that aim, leaving little but the beat and Freedia’s chopped and stuttered variations of the title. The track’s simplicity and Freedia’s unflagging exuberance welcome all without judgment, inviting everyone to join in the joy of bounce.

Andy Hutchins: No song in 2011 celebrates being fucking alive like “Y’all Get Back Now.” Viva sissy bounce; viva Big Freedia; viva NOLA.

Edward Okulicz: I wish my intro to Big Freedia hadn’t been the enthusiastic but tepid “Almost Famous” because this, this, is what it’s all about. Every single aspect of the production is designed to make you move, and just about every single one succeeds. Freedia’s charisma is as big as she appears in the video; I could do without the looped, cut-up vocal bits, but when Freedia’s performing, her verses are filled with individual grabs of words that are addictive; complemented by such aggressively perky, booty-shaking, ground-destroying bounce, it’s hard to resist. Where “Almost Famous” was about her, “Y’all Get Back Now” is all about you. It’s great on earphones but surrounded by people I bet it’s euphoria-inducing.

Alex Ostroff: Nola bounce is either your thing or it isn’t, in my experience. “Y’all Get Back Now” is a bit more boom-bappy than some of Big Freedia’s other tracks this year, but if it underwhelms on headphones, that’s because it wasn’t designed for them; the cheering crowd at the beginning hints at that. Throw this on over a club soundsystem in the wee hours of the morning — with Freedia in the middle of the crowd, ringmaster, performer, emcee, dance commander — and it fucking destroys.

Frank Kogan: Lets loose with a rap that’s as testosterone-fueled as anything by Blowfly, with beats as hard as the Stones, and jitters and slices that’ll shake your teeth out.

Jonathan Bradley: I thought “Almost Famous” was too far a departure from the core elements of Freedia’s bounce genre, so I’m happy to hear that “Y’all Get Back Now” has liberal doses of everything that makes the New Orleans’s own brand of party hip-hop so infectious. Snatches of “Triggaman” blat out over brash club chants and shoutouts to local neighborhoods. Freedia is such a commanding presence that she sounds like she’s directing the frenetic assortment of whizzes and bangs with just the sound of her voice; her instructions moving the music as easily as they move a crowd.

Jonathan Bogart: It’s a party that I wish I could join in. But I don’t know any of the dance moves, I don’t recognize the rhythms, and frankly I’m scared of making an ass of myself on the floor.

Zach Lyon: The best part of the video is the very end, when we cut to a normal-sized Freedia and her now-loyal masses doing their thing in front of the green screen that had just taken us through New Orleans and the cosmos. We see the song in its element: a simple room filled with people dancing with the freedom and zeal of a bunch of seven year-olds during a free period of P.E. You won’t hear another song in 2011 with this much warmth, enough to free you from that fear of judgment that adulthood attacks you with. I never heard this in a club or at a Freedia show, and I probably never will; I spent the year listening to it in my car, because when a song is this alive it doesn’t need context to keep you safe.

13 Responses to “AMNESTY 2011: Big Freedia – Y’all Get Back Now”

  1. Yay! This couldn’t have happened to a more deserving Amnesty Week pick. I can’t think of a case this year where I went in with low expectations and was so pleasantly surprised.

    @JBogs – Haven’t you seen the video? Everybody looks silly so nobody looks silly!

  2. Yes! Thanks for reminding me: I downloaded a bunch of Big Freedia tracks at a time when I was busy and travelling a lot, and never got round to listening, and this reminded me, and YES.

  3. Hi!
    I’m Rusty, I DJ with Freedia live and work with her on lots of creative projects.

    I just wanna say that y’all really made me happy today. There’s so much insightful discussion here and I’m stunned and pleased that y’all see Freedia with this much complexity AND simplicity. She’s always doing her best to respond to the demands for development required by her immediate community, and the wider world…and believe me, they’re very different things. So thanks for understanding and thanks in advance for your patience as we watch this grow. People here have been into bounce for 22 years already. Children have grown up literally thinking of it as “music” plain and simple. The kids in the video are just a few of the unbelievable dancers this city has waiting in the wings. Check out her new video for a view of what happens when you send out a message on facebook asking people to show up for a video shoot :) (

    But you should also know that right behind Big Freedia there’s 20 more rappers who kill it just as hard (in their own way) Right behind Blaqnmild (the producer of this track, listen for his tag…Blaq Biggie Blaq) there’s 20 more producers that are taking the music in divergent directions.
    Believe it or not, all bounce songs are not made the same way, or even from the same elements, and diversity may be slight but it definitely exists to our sensitive ears.

    This sound is as essential to the streets of New Orleans as anything you’ve learned about from movies and documentaries. Jazz Funerals, Second Lines, Mardi Gras Indians, you name it, Bounce touches all these things and all these things affect Bounce…and I’m not speaking figuratively. It lives fully and will continue to surprise you if you don’t let yourself become cynical or take it (or yourself, lookin’ at you Jonathan Bogart :)) too seriously. It was created for moving and movement and without dancers it wouldn’t even exist, but then neither would almost any other New Orleans music.

    It that spirit we regard it as canonical in essence. And now we see that the city, the state and now all of y’all are starting to feel it too. We love this music and will do our best to keep it surprising. I am inspired by your observations.
    Thank you!

  4. ps. Jonathan, we’ve all made asses of ourselves on the dance floor…it’s kind of what you’re supposed to do…run with it!

  5. Other rappers to youtube in your spare time:
    Sissy Nobby (also a producer) –
    Fly Boy Keno –
    Katey Red –
    Nicky da B – /
    J-Rock –
    DJ Jubilee – – The original Back that Azz Up!
    Magnolia Shorty (RIP) –
    Gotty Boi Chris –
    5th Ward Weebie – – one of the only really political bounce songs
    Crowd Mova Crystal –
    Flipset Fred
    Monsta Wit Da Fade
    10th Ward Buck
    Vockah Redu
    Ricky B
    Partners N Crime
    Miss Tee
    The Hot Boys
    Luckylou Da Greatest
    Messy Mya (RIP)
    Ya Boy Big Choo
    …and so many more i can’t keep searching…

  6. Rusty, you killed it!

  7. Thank you Rusty! Your comments are probably the only thing that could make me happier than the score here. I’d love for us to cover more region-specific club tracks (esp bounce, Baltimore, juke) next year. And I’m ecstatic that everyone here seemed to review the track itself and not the bounce genre as a whole even though “Almost Famous” was the only other one we’ve covered thus far.

    And even though this was my amnesty pick, Anthony’s blurb might be my favorite of the year. Good work everyone.

  8. Agreed re: Anthony :)
    Seriously, check out this bounce version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”. Remixes of R&B jams is a huge part of Bounce culture (the same way soul and brass bands remixed traditional jazz) and I would actually argue this version is better than the original…it’s really interesting to watch a culture change and shift while seeming to stay virtually the same.

  9. That was a tiny bit awesome, Rusty! Freedia’s show in Sydney last night was great fun too. This song killed, and there were way-better-than-recorded showings for “Azz Everywhere” and “Gin in My System” too.

  10. Huge thanks for your comments, Rusty. It’s sometimes difficult to fully absorb the context of this music listening to it in Australia (though Freedia’s show last night helped a lot in this regard!) and I love reading from folks who’ve grown up with it in their immediate environment.

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  12. i’m plotzing!

  13. I think I underscored this! It has grown on me a lot.