Big Freedia's been the undisputed queen of NOLA's hip-hop sub-genre bounce for over a decade, and while twerking has been grotesquely appropriated by the mainstream and Freedia herself has become a reality TV star (thanks to the GLAAD-award winning Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce), the artist born Freddie Ross is just releasing her first proper studio album. First, the good news: despite production work from producer Thomas McElroy (En Vogue, Raphael Saadiq), Freedia's made no commercial concessions; Just Be Free is a frantic, busy and uncompromisingly relentless album that doesn't let up over its 10 tracks and 34 minutes, and as a summer party album, it's all but faultless.
"Turn Da Beat Up" and "Explode" are prime booty rocking bounce anthems sporting deep bass and repetitively cathartic chants, but the unfortunate snag with an album as charged as this is that there's no breathing room. Everything goes by at such a breathless pace and without much variation that for individual listening, it gets a bit draining at times. The best dance music works on a physical as well as a cerebral level, and perhaps that's a notion that Freedia should consider next time. Otherwise, Big Freedia's in no danger of losing her crown. (Queen Diva Music)