N.E.R.D.’s hit song “Lemon” owes a lot to New Orleans bounce

Big Freedia explains where “Lemon” got its bounce from.

In the first five seconds of N.E.R.D.’s hit single “Lemon” featuring Rihanna, we hear three things: a voice, a heavy 808 bass, and a high-pitched raucous beat that sounds like a cross between a cowbell and a water drop. These three things immediately signify you’re listening to a Pharrell song because they create an unabashedly upbeat energy. But they also give us a peek into a genre of hip-hop that hasn’t fully crossed over into the mainstream: New Orleans bounce.

To learn more about the genre, and to get a definitive answer on whether “Lemon” is a bounce song, I spoke with Big Freedia, a New Orleans native and an artist widely credited with bringing bounce music to the masses. To learn more about bounce music, watch the final episode of Earworm season one above.

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