Freddie brings glamor to queer radicalism in summer single ‘Bashback!’
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Freddie, the Oakland-based musician / activist who won the Daily Californian’s 2021 Best local artist award, is back with a single that promises listeners a hot and anarchist summer. Released last Friday, ‘Bashback!is a pop / trap anthem that is as catchy as it is a political urgency.
From the intro of the song, Freddie announces that they are “going on the attack”. The first verse describes an incident of homosexual disparagement that serves as a call to Freddie’s response: “Bashback!”
The title of the song is borrowed from the world of the queer insurgency. Bash Back! was a network of queer activists known for their radical organizing tactics (anarchists) inspired by the Stonewall riots and the ACT UP protests of the AIDS epidemic. Although it was only active for a few years between 2007 and 2011, Bash Back! was created to resist what its organizers saw as the assimilationist and heteronormative aspirations of the mainstream LGBT movement.
Like its namesake, “Bashback!” From Freddie! takes political positions that are stronger than those usually found in mainstream queer pop music. The lyrics are an act of resistance against capitalism, queer oppression and the police state. The “pink bandana brings the system to its knees” line evokes the image of a Bash Back! protester wearing a pink bandana on his face to hide his identity.
Freddie’s voice on the track is both elegant and irreverent, oscillating between the styles of rap and R&B. Their rage is Rihanna-esque. (The line “bring a hammer to the bank” captures a brash extravaganza that hits like “Bitch Better Have My Money.”) But there are also playful delivery moments that point to lighter influences: the final chorus ends on the word “Bashback!” And instantly transforms into an outro where Freddie sings “La-la-la” in demi-choirs).
Aside from the banks and the masses, Freddie is delightfully economical when it comes to time. In just one minute and 33 seconds, “Bashback!” takes listeners to the distant frontiers of the old adage: “Don’t do something longer than necessary.” Freddie varies their flow, jumps into singing pop vocals, and tunes in with himself with a remarkable ear for timing. Fans may be devastated by the song’s brevity, but it’s undoubtedly a testament to Freddie’s musicality.
But what’s most exhilarating about the single is hearing Freddie reclaim the traps of commercial music for his own political ends. With his pop vocals and trap percussion, Freddie’s sound fits comfortably into the mainstream, but their lyrics subvert the industry at every turn.
“Bashback! is an anthem of anarchy and militant queer insurgency with broad political agendas. Many pop artists criticize capitalism in hopes of creating an avant-garde aesthetic, but Freddie’s opposition to the police and the capitalist state is at the heart of their makeup. “Bashback! is a versatile summer single: it’s also meant for the dance floor and watching the system burn.
Contact Blue Fay at [email protected].