In the late 80’s and early 90’s, a subgenre of hip hop called Miami bass dominated the southern underground club scene. Commonly known as booty bass, this style is characterized by MC’s hailing from Southern Florida or Atlanta rapping catchy hooks over loud samples and bass lines over 130 beats per minute. It is different than rap in the same way as punk rock is different than hard rock.
The purpose of these southern club jams wasn’t to make you buy an album to listen to on a long road trip with your family. The purpose was to possess partiers and dancers to partake in some straight-up sweaty, raunchy, fast-action, don’t-let-your-mom-find-out-about-this rump shaking.
Modern ‘twerking’ has nothing on the lewd dancing during the Miami bass period.
Maybe you’ve heard of artists like 69 Boyz, Quad City DJs, or Freak Nasty – some of the few artists to rise above the underbelly of the short-lived subgenre – who made chart topping hits exposing the genre on a national level. The genre never made any real mainstream hype but heavily influenced the progression of party rap music throughout the 90s. The majority of Miami bass artists are unheard of or forgotten.
I am a huge fan of Miami bass music. I spend more free time than I probably should finding forgotten tracks to add to my “BOOTY MIXXX” playlist. I pump myself up before going to the bars on Friday nights blaring “Dickey Ride” by Southern Playaz. I daydream about wearing denim cut-offs amidst a crowd of 20-somethings during Spring Break 1990 and shaking my rump until I can’t breathe anymore.
Miami bass isn’t completely gone. New Orleans is bringing it back. But now it’s called bounce music. And Big Freedia is the queen of it.
The Earl was filled with sweaty bodies bouncing in every way possible while shouting Big Freedia’s call-and-response hooks. She invited crowd members on stage and encouraged hardcore rump shaking. Her DJ spun fast-paced heavy bass beats while her entourage booty bounced in ways I didn’t know were possible. There wasn’t a single person in that room standing still. Freedia’s devotion to supplying the party with the fuel to booty bounce was sincere. It was the most fun I’ve had at a show all year.
I’m at work now listening to Big Freedia’s SoundCloud which is great, but it’s not the same as that night. These tiny computer speakers can’t handle the wrath of Freedia’s bass lines, and it wouldn’t be very work appropriate of me to booty bounce.
Bounce music is more than just a style of music – it’s the best party you will ever go to.
And this doesn’t go for just bounce music, either. Music turns into something completely different when you see it live. You don’t go to a show only for the music – you go to show to have an experience.
My experience seeing Big Freedia was a sweaty, sticky, raunchy, fantastic blast and I couldn’t be happier that my generation is part of the bounce movement.