Tag Archives: rap

Music Diary: Big Freedia at the Sinclair

Big Freedia at the Sinclair Thursday night.

Big Freedia at the Sinclair Thursday night.

When we got to the Sinclair, it was packed — a Droogie from A Clockwork Orange, Max from Where the Wild Things Are, a Pikachu, a Penguin from Batman, men and women in Viking-blonde pigtails, lots of women in black-tight Cat Woman outfits. DJ Nate Bluhm was blasting dancehall reggae. But how the fuck would I know? Fast beats and Jamaican patois. I asked my wife to order me a Red Stripe.

And then Big Freedia — the six-foot-plus transvestite in her Duff Man costume from The Simpsons. Blue tights and orange cape, orange baseball cap with “Duff” on the crown, a utility belt holding cans of Duff beer. Her DJ fired up the bounce beats — super-fast machine-gun popping syncopation with big scattered bass bombs. “I got that gin in my system/somebody gonna be my victim!” Call and response. Most people knew it, and the dancefloor was bouncing. Freedia — “the Queen Diva” — had four dancers, two men and two women. They kept moving, twirls and arm slices, kicks and bounces, and plenty of “original New Orleans twerkin’.” Asses in the air. One female dancer in a bee outfit, with orange wings and black outfit, the other in black-and-white corset and ruffled mini-skirt with orange laces and head ribbon. One of the male dancers was a Ninja, bare-chested and buff in orange headband and sweat pants. The other guy was an alien — two-tone trimmed Afro, galactic insignia, boots.

There weren’t a lot of lyrics. I recognized an old favorite: “ASS everywhere, ASS everywhere, ASS everywhere, ASS everywhere!” Freedia invited volunteers up to the stage for “twerk therapy” and, later, a booty contest. “Y’all gotta go harder than that!” There were more songs. “Go hard or go home!” And the chant of “EAT that pussy! EAT that pussy!” Freedia changed into an orange Big Freedia t-shirt and blue sweat pants, her long hair flowing loose. “That must be jelly/cause jam don’t shake!” The two male dancers squared off and bowed their legs, hopping frenetically — right out of Congo Square 200 years ago. But how the fuck would I know? “Y’all full of muthafuckin’ energy in this muthafuckin’ house tonight!” said Big Freedia with approval.

The chants and music went on — “Rock Around the Clock.” Because, hey, why the fuck not? With more call and response and then: “Rocka rocka rocka rocka rocka rocka!”  And, “Excuse, I don’t mean to be rude/but give me that mike/let me do what I do/Excuse me/I don’t mean to be rude/but give me that mike/let Big Freedia come through…..wobbly wobbly wobbly wobbly wobbly wobbly wobbly.”

Freedia complained that she was hoarse, but she sounded big and unimpaired. She sang about her search for a long dick — an a cappella R&B melody. She thanked everyone for supporting her reality show (on the Fuse network) and the bounce movement. This was the eighth night of the tour, Freedia said, and the first sold-out show. How could it not be — Halloween in Cambridge, Big Freedia and bounce. It was a no-brainer,.

New Orleans Notes: Day Two

Creole Wild West with Big Chiefl Walter Cook

Creole Wild West with Howard Miller standing in for Big Chief Walter Cook

When we can, my wife and I like to start our days at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with Mardi Gras Indians. The Indians seem the best way to reconnect with the festival, with the city, and with its people. The Indians are a neighborhood tradition, dated by some as far back as the Civil War and even earlier. In these tough, proud neighborhoods, there’s no more manly man than a Big Chief, dressed in a suit of brightly colored beads and feathers that he made himself.

One of our favorite chiefs is Howard Miller,  whose “gang” is Creole Wild West. This is a crew that claims to be the oldest Mardi Gras Indian tribe in New Orleans, dating themselves back to 1721. That’s not necessarily why we like them. A lot of the appeal for us has to do with Cook himself. Although he’s been increasingly standing in for the ailing Big Chief, Walter Cook, taking over front-man duties, Howard is uncommonly laid back. Like a lot of chiefs, he doesn’t mask for Jazz Fest. That’s something to be saved for Mardi Gras and St. Joseph’s Day (the latter is traditionally the most important for Mardi Gras Indians). Instead, he leaves dress-up for the high-ranking in his gang —the Spy Boy, the Flag Boy, the Wild Man. Howard himself saunters on stage in white polo shirt and distressed jeans (fashionably worn open at the knee), wearing tinted glasses and a straw fedora from under which peeks a blue-and-white bandana. “Nobody kneels and nobody bow, we’re Creole Wild West and we don’t know how!… INDIANS!” Thumping of drums, rattling tambourine, and the low cry from the gang: “Oooh-ooh!” Big Chief: “Madi cu defei! Indian Red! Indian Red!”photo

There follows a call-and-response chant of floating verses as old as Mardi Gras itself. “We won’t bow down. (We won’t bow down!) On that dirty ground. (That dirty ground!) Oh I love to hear him call, my Indian Red!”

There are chants like “Indian Red” that are part of just about every Mardi Gras Indian performance — “Shoo-fly,” “Hoo-nah-hey,” “Hey Poky Way — some of which have become actual songs and hit singles. (Every elder statesman at Jazz Fest has to sing “Iko Iko,” from Dr. John and Irma Thomas to the Dixie Cups and any of the Neville Brothers.) But for most of the Indian tribe performances at Jazz Fest, these are stripped down chants driven by unadorned percussion — congas, bass drums, cowbell, tambourines, and maybe — as a concession to the stage performance rather than a parade — trap drums with cymbals.

So Big Howard leads his crew with raps about the “gumbo city. . . . I got a big ol’ gang, and look at ’em, every one of ’em is pretty!… I told my mother, I told my little wife, I’m gonna bring me this gang if it costs me my life! ”

There’s a rap about clearing a path for the tribe on Mardi Gras day (“Hell out the way!”) And then one long rap:

“Swam the ocean and I didn’t get wet.

Slow walked through hell and I didn’t even sweat.”

A hundred soldiers had me against a mountain wall,

by the time the sun set, I had killed them all.

Killed 98 and then I escaped,

thought about what they meant to do do,

then I went back and killed the other two.”

Hanging with the Big Chief.

Hanging with the Chief.