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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Rhymes, rhythms: Big Freedia, Tarriona Ball at New Orleans Book Festival

Big Freedia and Tank Ball on stage at the New Orleans Book Festival.

Big Freedia and Tank Ball attended the annual New Orleans Book Festival hosted by Tulane University last Friday to promote their latest books.

Tarriona Ball, better known as Tank, is a poet and three-time Grammy-nominated musician known for her work with Tank and The Bangas. Born and raised in New Orleans, her group’s genre of music is best described as “fiery soul, deft hip-hop, deep-drove R&B and subtle jazz.” Tanks’ poetry typically touches on a variety of topics, including social challenges, identity and personal experiences.

Tank’s book,“Vulnerable AF,” is a collection of small poems expressing her vulnerability about thinking you’re falling in and out of love. Tank told me in our interview that she wrote her book in miniature poems instead of the traditional novel format because she is a poet before anything. Tank said, “Poetry loved me back first, even before singing did.” 

Tank expressed to me that her book was a way of breaking free of heartbreak and finding what love truly is. She said that when she first started writing at the age of 11, she would write only for herself because she didn’t care what anyone else thought. It was just her and the page. “There is nothing like being in a studio and being excited about your own stuff,” she said. 

Tank drew inspiration from her relationship with her sisters and the lessons she learned growing up with them as she wrote one of her poems. In the poem, she explains that some of the lessons were valuable, but some of them kept her from experiencing a relationship. Tank wanted her audience to know that every lesson is not worth keeping, even if it’s by someone you idealize.

Big Freedia was also born and raised in New Orleans. She is most popularly known for the New Orleans based subgenre of hip-hop music called bounce. Big Freedia described bounce as uptempo with a heavy bass. She said, “The music has a lot to do with twerking, shoulder hustling and peter panning.”  She was featured in Beyonce’s award-winning single “Break My Soul” back in 2022. Themes of self-expression, empowerment and expressing LGBTQ+ identity are common in Freedia’s songs. 

Big Freedia’s book is titled “God Save The Queen Diva.” It describes her personal life, how it influenced who she is today and her journey to the top. She also talks about how bounce music inspired her.

Freedia described her life growing up in New Orleans as “very magical, full of family and a lot of church.” She said that her book is for anyone and everyone. 

Freedia gave a piece of advice on being yourself, a message that shined through her talk. “No matter where you go in life, or who you become … just be real and yourself,” she said. This advice is important not just for young listeners but for all listeners. 

This Queen Diva also emphasized that she loves to shake a little something, but when it is time to stand on business, she does. “Big Freedia means business,” she said.

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