Sissy Bounce: Shake That Ass! (An examination of gay rap culture in New Orleans) - OurVinyl

Sissy Bounce: Shake That Ass! (An examination of gay rap culture in New Orleans)

Editors Pick

Hip Hop has evolved over the past few decades from an urban underground political movement into a genre consistently shaping mainstream pop culture. When asked to prototype the traditional hip hop artist one thinks of jewelry and attitude. Would it not be fitting to therefore include gay transvestites into the same genre? If you answered no, clearly you do not know about the Sissy Bounce movement that is emerging from the city of New Orleans.

Bounce music, originated in New Orleans, is a sub genre of hip hop which is a high energy music that has listeners moving in ways that some may have thought were not even physically possible. Bounce music is unique in the sense that it only is comprised of one of two beats sampled from classic hip hop producers.  These two beats are known as the “Triggerman” or “Brown beats”.

Once that foundation is set, Bounce music takes aspects of traditional New Orleans parades and second lines with their enthused, loud, and active melodies that always calls for a response from the emcee. It is almost like having a conversation while screaming and shaking to the music.

More recently however; Bounce has further evolved to include an unlikely group of candidates, in the stereotypical harder forms of hip hop: the gay community. This genre, known as Sissy Bounce, takes the same elements of Bounce music and transports it to parameters where the lyrics and scene is more relevant to the gay and lesbian lifestyle than whatever demographic is usually represented by hip hop artists.

Such performers such as Big Freedia are not only accepted as a worthy counterpart to Bounce music, but are embraced as the redefining measure for where this genre can go. To be in New Orleans and not be aware of the music and artists such as Freedia is nearly impossible.

It is a surreal experience to witness a Sissy Bounce show. From the crowd to the performance itself you will go through a series of emotions from self doubt, to speechlessness and eventually infatuation with the uniqueness of such an act. Although the rapper on stage is a man dressed as a woman, whose lyrics go out to the gay community rather than demoralizing other genders or different orientations, the crowd is an eclectic mix of every type of person.

When Freedia takes stage, anyone is welcome on stage – gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, whatever – as long as you are ready to shake your ass and put your hands on the floor. Literally.

Amid the twenty-minute explosion of gyrating pelvises, thrusting bodies, and sweaty climaxes, you will see many straight guys lurching on the borders unsure how to handle themselves in a situation so empowered by homosexual innuendo and security. Then there are the girls who seem lost at such a place only to finally let their guard out to wild out into a scene that could probably be in an episode of the Jersey Shore.

When talking to Freedia, she expressed how Sissy Bounce is about reaching out to gays across the world, to be unique and entertain in her own category. She sees this growing into a legacy; a culture that continues to thrive on its identity rather than validate a lifestyle by comparing to others.

Freedia is a hard worker who performs multiple shows a night nearly every day. She has been to New York City where her crowds just get bigger and bigger every time. After seeing her perform, you feel as if you were a part of something special, that cannot be described or captured as well as it would be experienced. On stage this woman is a disciple of ass and pop sent to eliminate the inhibitions of any attendee into a state of command. When she speaks, you listen. “Shake yo ass!  Hand on the floor! Now shake yo ass!  Shake yo ass!  Shake yo ass for Freedia!”  She is a rock star with unimaginable control over an already hyped crowd.

On many levels the Sissy Bounce movement is both intriguing and ground breaking. Whether your perspective on this genre is oblique, civil, political, musical, or even just cultural there is so much to gain from such a unique experience. Oddly, controversy has not been an issue with this movement maybe since for lack of a better word it is just so … fun.

Written by Danny Goodman

Photos By Max Rasche (to see more of his word, click here)