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Five Ways New Orleans Inspired Beyoncé’s ‘Homecoming’

Bayou Classic is a celebration of HBCU culture that takes place every November in New Orleans (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

Like the rest of the world, we’re still recovering from the state of awe that Beyoncé’s ‘Homecoming’ put us in last week. The film, released April 17 on Netflix, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Beyoncé’s performance from the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. We knew this performance went down in history last year, but for us proud New Orleanians, we found a whole new way to appreciate the show she put on through this film.

Throughout the set, you’ll hear snippets of music from New Orleans artists like Rebirth Brass Band, Juvenile, DJ Jubilee, and others. The HBCU culture that is celebrated here at our own universities (Xavier, Dillard) and through annual events like Bayou Classic are represented throughout the film. If you missed it, we’ve got some of the highlights right here for you. Here are five ways New Orleans inspired Beyoncé’s ‘Homecoming.’

Rebirth Brass Band performs at the Maple Leaf Bar (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

1. Rebirth Brass Band

Starting off strong, Beyoncé struts down stage to none other than Rebirth Brass Band’s ‘Do Whatcha Wanna’ (a much slowed down version, for a grander entrance) with a scepter in hand. Rebirth Brass Band is part of the lifeblood of New Orleans, its music filling the streets of our city and far beyond. The band’s music makes another cameo during ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’ with ‘I Feel Like Funkin’ It Up.’ It’s during Bey’s iconic entrance to the sound of Rebirth Brass Band that we knew we were in for the performance of a lifetime. You can catch the band live most Tuesdays at Maple Leaf Bar in the Riverbend.

2. Juvenile, DJ Mannie Fresh, and Lil Wayne

When the beat drops during ‘Crazy In Love,’ another New Orleans artist enters the song. New Orleans rapper Juvenile’s ‘Back Dat Azz Up’ (featuring New Orleans’ own DJ Mannie Fresh and Lil Wayne) brings the track right on home with its smooth horns and bounce influence. We knew ‘Crazy In Love’ was just waiting to find its perfect match, and we’d argue that this mashup is even better than the original.

Big Freedia (Photo credit: Hunter Holder)

3. Big Freedia

We all know Big Freedia’s introduction on ‘Formation’ by heart by now, and you can hear the crowd go wild at the sound of her voice. As the queen of New Orleans bounce music, Big Freedia helped popularize the genre, bringing it to a wider national audience. Bounce music has influenced the best in hip hop, R&B, and rap across the charts, and we smile a little every time we hear Big Freedia’s introduction on the track.

Bayou Classic (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

4. HBCU Culture

Aside from the actual performance, what makes ‘Homecoming’ so special is that we get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation process. From its inception, Bey set out to pay homage to black culture, particularly HBCU culture, which is prominent here in New Orleans through HBCUs like Dillard and Xavier universities. She made it a priority to include a black orchestra, steppers, and dancers, similar to what you’d see at the Battle of the Bands at Bayou Classic, an annual football match held in New Orleans every November. In the film, you’ll see clips from Southern and Grambling State universities, the two Louisiana HBCUs that participate in Bayou Classic. Footage from a past Bayou Classic is used in the film, showcasing Grambling State’s marching line on the field of the Superdome. Beyoncé brought the culture that runs so deep here in New Orleans to Coachella and far beyond with this film.

5. DJ Jubilee

Yet another New Orleans rapper is sampled in this performance, and the final one comes via DJ Jubilee in ‘Before I Let Go.’ The song, originally performed by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, is mashed up with DJ Jubilee’s ‘Get Ready Ready,’ infusing even more New Orleans bounce music into the set list. This song plays during the credits of ‘Homecoming,’ giving us one last chance to get down to the best music there is – New Orleans music, y’all!

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