Big Freedia On Performing With Love And The Power Of Prayer

All photographs by Oh Dag Yo.

We caught up with the Queen of Bounce following the Holy Ship! performance

If you've ever seen Big Freedia live, you already know. The self-appointed (and deservedly so) Queen of Bounce—an upbeat, New Orleans-born form of hip-hop that pretty much necessitates twerking—is as electric as she is electrifying, sending crowds into screaming fits with a toss of her locks, an entourage of Spandex-clad backup dancers framing her amid their gyrations. It's the kind of frenetic energy that gets you noticed by Beyoncé and Drake, both of whom have sampled Freedia in "Formation" and "Nice for What," respectively. It's also the kind of energy you'd need to dominate the massive throngs of Holy Ship!, a nearly week-long, Florida-based electronic music cruise boasting crowds upwards of 4,000 people, which Freedia headlined earlier in the month. That signature kinetic verve, (which I can only imagine requires more than a few Red Bulls), is the reason I half expect rapid-fire responses when we sit down for a phone chat just days after her party voyage through the Bahamas. Instead, I find the bounce queen and LGBTQ icon (Freedia is openly gay) to be surprisingly unflappable and utterly down-to-earth as she opens up about pre-stage rituals, her unwavering spirituality, and prepping for shows in what may be the most low-maintenance way possible.

At this point in your career, you've performed in all kinds of venues. Was there something special for you about the Holy Ship! performance?
It was [special], being that it was my first cruise, and I got to enjoy myself and work at the same time. The whole overall experience was special—everybody was happy, everybody was partying till the sun came up and after. It was just like a big 'ole family. We had a great time connecting with the other artists and DJs there, meeting some amazing fans. All types of different music was playing; it was mostly EDM, but one night was all hip-hop. Then, of course, I brought my flavor of New Orleans and bounce. And just the different dynamics of going back-and-forth, performing on the beach and then performing on the boat. It was amazing—definitely an experience I'll never forget.

You often perform to huge crowds, and Holy Ship! was no exception; how do you emotionally prepare for a performance that big? Do you have to psyche yourself up?
I just go out there and have fun. I've learned that you can't overthink it; you just have to go for what you know, and that's what I do. I do different stuff when I see the way the crowd is racked, and it makes me racked in a different way. I might do something to make them say, Wow, or say something that make them say, Wow. I'm just watching the dynamic of the crowd, and we playin' off of each other's energy.

Walk me through what goes into creating your look before a show.
It really just depends on what the event is. I always try to have my hair and my nails did no matter what. As long as that's done, putting an outfit and some shoes together, and a little makeup, that's nothing. When I go shopping, I try to specify certain things for certain events, but most of the time, I have so much stuff to pull from at home in the closet. I'll be like, "Okay, how am I feeling today?" and I just throw shit on, and that be the look for the night. That's for smaller events, but, for bigger events, I do try to plan. For Holy Ship!, I had to plan a little because I wanted florals and stuff that felt beachy and fun.

When you're backstage before a show, how do you like the vibe? Do you want it to be pumped up and loud or do you need to get into a Zen space?
Very chill. You know, having a social drink, doing a little chitchatting, stretching every now and then, just kind of warming up. Really laid-back because the madness is gonna be on the other side of the door. The best times I've had backstage are when you have people around you who genuinely love you, respect your privacy, and have your back—that's what it's all about. You want to have a safe haven when you're in your dressing room or your green room. That's what's most important to me: having peace of mind and a safe haven. I will be very disturbed if it's overcrowded—too many people, you know, a moment where I can't mellow out before I hit the stage. When it's chaotic, it makes you kind of frustrated, because you feel like you're not prepared, but even then, you still have to put that switch on and go out there and perform.

When you're onstage, do you feel like you're being yourself, or do you have to switch gears and become an exaggerated or altered version of yourself?
Both. I definitely am myself, but sometimes I have to switch into stage mode where I have to really work hard to get the crowd into it, especially if it's an unfamiliar crowd or a new crowd. But I'm always me, regardless. Performing has always been a natural part of me. I grew up singing and I also was in a choir, so I always was in the spotlight and participating in all type of events that dealt with an audience. It does come naturally for me.

With the political climate now, do you ever felt like your shows are a form of therapy?
It definitely helps to take the mind off all the dumb shit going on in the world, but, at some point, we all have to get back to reality. It's a temporary fix. We all have temporary fixes, where we do something that take our minds off of a situation, but we always have to go back to reality. It comes with it all—politics, everyday life, work—whatever it is.

At the same time, so many people look to you and feel hopeful because of the positive change you represent. Does that ever sink in for you when you're on stage?
Yeah, definitely, especially when I look out on all the diverse crowds—I know I'm speaking for them and being their voice. I feel that a lot, especially when I'm on stage because I'm seeing the different kinds of people in the audience. But also, I just do what I do, and I do it from the heart with love and passion. I just want to speak what needs to be speaking and hear what needs to be heard when it's time.

You've experienced such an incredible evolution in your life, starting out in the Third Ward [neighborhood] of New Orleans and now headlining these massive festivals. Beyond working hard, what do you think has carried you from where you were to where you are?
First and foremost, keeping God first. In everything I do, no matter what it is—a performance, waking up in the morning, going to sleep, something successful happening in my career—thanking the being that's making it happen. Everything else falls in line. And just being humble, staying true to myself, and staying connected with my family, my friends, the fans. I'm just trying to balance it all, and the only way to do that is prayer. Prayer is a big part of it, for me and my whole team.

What do you have on the agenda for 2019?
I have some dreams that I'm working on. New music, new projects—either EPs or an album. I'm in the process of deciding which it's gonna be because the songs are already ready. I'm working on some new TV stuff to keep that world going. I also want to grow to the next level with some more personal things in my life—real estate and a cookbook.

What kind of food will the cookbook focus on?
Girl, of course New Orleans food! Yes, girl.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.