BUKU 4 U: AG Writers’ Picks

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Published  March 2015

Parrotheads and classic rockers stand down: this is not your AARP convention, ‘90s glory days revival, camp-chair army jamstival. The BUKU Music + Art Project, now in its fourth year, drops on New Orleans this month like a neon-lit, spraypainted  Godzilla, stomping and wamping its way up and down the Mississippi River. Housed between Mardi Gras World, the Crescent City Connection, and the abandoned Market  Street Power Plants, BUKU brings the block party vibe to dystopia. Here are AG’s picks for this year’s lineup.


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FRIDAY 3/13

A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky’s catchy brand of laid back party rap makes his a name iPod dictators at house parties around the world cannot scroll past. His major hit, “Fucking Problems,”  (from debut album Long.Live.A$AP) is ubiquitous. It’s in your friend’s car, it’s on Q93, and it’s stuck in your head. While A$AP originally moved to New Jersey from Harlem,  his career has been influenced more by the Houston school of rappers. He has been championed by large forces in the music industry like Drake and Rhianna,  but also commands respect from the indie rock crowd, having appeared in a Lana Del Rey video and igniting a hype so out-of-control that it almost burned down Brooklyn. A grab-bag of rappers appeared on Long.Live.A$AP, including  Kendrick  Lamar, 2 Chainz, and Yelawolf. A$AP Rocky may be everywhere, but he promises to deliver an awesome performance for those at BUKU looking for a more traditional dance party than the laser-focused intensity of most electronica shows. (AM)

 

Die Antwoordantigravity_vol12_issue5_Page_16_Image_0002

When you talk about Die Antwoord  (pictured above), things are bound to get weird. They have said literally the craziest shit ever in their interviews. A personal favorite of mine is when a reporter called them and Ninja told the reporter how there was a German  Shepherd in their friend’s freezer so they were just hanging out and making a carpet out of the dog ’s skin, and, oh by the way, they’re vegetarian. Meanwhile, the reporter’s ear was desperately pressed to the phone while he struggled to make sense of Ninja’s incomprehensible ranting, so the poor guy didn’t even comprehend what was said until he could play the tape later. Die Antwoord’s Ninja and Yolandi are known for their distinctive zef identity, oddball music videos, and IDGAF attitude. Enough time has passed since their whirlwind introduction in 2010, when the two South African rappers were snapped up by Interscope Records and toured the festival circuit, that they are now widely recognized as legitimately entertaining headliners. They’ve released two albums on their own record label (their brief romance with Interscope didn’t last long), including 2014’s Donker Mag. The highlight of the album wasn’t actually any of the tracks but instead their insane music video for “Ugly Boy,” which is like a Who’s Who of Hollywood-meets-American Horror Story lost deep in zef culture. It features Marilyn Manson and his ex-wife Dita Von Teese, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea flailing around Yolandi, a heavily- scarred Jack Black, and supermodel Cara Delevingne shooting a squirt gun filled with fake blood. Anyway, if you see their show, you might not be able to accurately explain what you’ve seen or understand half of the words, but it will be memorable. You will also certainly see some sweet sweatsuits. (KR)

 

MUSA

antigravity_vol12_issue5_Page_16_Image_0003Self-described as a Brazilian/redneck half breed DJ from the swamps of New Orleans, Musa Alves (pictured above) is notorious for her Saturday night dance party, Obsession, which often pounds  its way into a Sunday morning service of sin at The Saint. Since she started DJing in 2008, Musa’s reputation as an inexhaustible dance goddess has carried her to festivals all over the world including Pitchfork, Fashion Week in New York and Paris, SXSW, Mad Decent Mondays, All Tomorrow’s Parties, and our very own Voodoo Fest. She has also graced the dance floors of clubs in Milan, London, Berlin, and Barcelona. With a curriculum vitae as strong as the one she has amassed since her humble beginnings, it is a pleasure beyond measure to have her DJing the New Orleans dance party of 2015 at BUKU. (AT)

 

Empire  of the Sun

antigravity_vol12_issue5_Page_16_Image_0004I missed Empire of the Sun when they came to the Civic in 2013 and I will never forget the agony of the next morning when I re-posted photos  from the show on social media. I scrolled through dozens of Instagram posts showing the outlandish set bathed in neon lights, the eclectic towering costumes, and the sweet sounds of “Walking on a Dream.” The most painful moment was watching  the crowd sing along to “We are the People,” because a) the crowd’s singing was horrible and b) it would have been so much better if I was there. Even if you actually made it to their show at the Civic, it’s worth seeing them again. Their aesthetic is somewhere between superheroes and fantasy-world conquerors, which pairs well with their  bright, synth-laden music, well-honed after years of relentless touring. (KR)

 

Pell

New Orleans native Pell returns to the Crescent City on the Ballroom stage at BUKU. The 21 year-old MC lived in New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina forced his family to move to Starkville, Mississippi. In interviews, Pell discusses how the move kickstarted his music career. He began listening to contemporary artists like Kanye West and John Legend and coupled those influences with more established subgenres of Southern hip-hop, like crunk and bounce. These combinations influenced the young artist to write an album that’s both true to his Southern roots and conceptually progressive. Pell released Floating While Dreaming in 2014 with production by Danish electronica producers Tomas Barfod and Jeppe Kjellberg. In an interview with Complex, Pell referred to his music as “futuristic soul” and that  description is apt. The production is more ambient than most hip-hop records. Not content to simply rap, he sings and invites other crooners to settle the lyrics and choruses back into the cut. His sound is laid back without being laconic or boring, like many contemporary rappers. The songs are more introspective and intelligent than  your typical late-night, bang-it-out club hits. (AM)

 

Gramatik

Gramatik was on BUKU’s first lineup  and I can’t wait to welcome him back. His samples are well-chosen and woven into gently pumping beats, which makes sense when you find out that his mother found him rocking out to his sister’s vintage cassette tapes at only three years old. He incorporates live instrumentation into his shows, so it’s not just watching one guy fiddling around behind a deck. Gramatik recently outgrew the Pretty Lights label, where he’d been Derek Vincent’s first pick, and formed his own label, Lowtemp, which released 2014’s Age of Reason. Even more appealing, Gramatik backed up his beliefs about keeping the internet as free as possible by releasing the funky and diverse album as a BitTorrent bundle. His set in the Float Den will be packed and lively. (KR)

 

Run The Jewels

It was meant to be a one-off collaboration. Underground darling MC El-P paired with Atlanta rapper Killer Mike to produce Mike’s 2012 album R.A.P. Music. The futuristic sound of the music melded well with Mike’s breakneck rhymes and politically scathing lyrics. The album stunned critics and fans. Riding the wave of success and their status as underground emperors, El-P and Killer Mike made their partnership official by forming Run the Jewels and have released two eponymous albums  produced by El-P, with both sharing  duties on the mic plus a litany of guests. El-P and Killer Mike manage to straddle a line between party-rap and conscious hip-hop without becoming  simplistic or preachy. The production is layered and complex, but wacky and fast in a way that’s almost out of control. The two MCs eviscerate both abstract politicians and very real cops, and even a couple of whack MC’s mothers. This isn’t the self-serving  egotism of Jay-Z or Kanye West, who claim to transgress racial and class boundaries due to their universal pop appeal and personal wealth. Killer Mike and El-P straight up disabuse any utopian ideal of pop music, describing the daily transgressions each of them  deals with because of class and race. Run the Jewels do not deal with bullshit. The albums are cynical and in-your-face, but also just a shitload of fun. The duo established a reputation on the festival scene early into their  time performing together. High energy hip-hop with breakneck beats and funky production will blow up the Ballroom stage at BUKU. It will be one of the more exciting and intense performances of the weekend. El-P and Killer Mike know no other way. (AM)

 

antigravity_vol12_issue5_Page_17_Image_0001Portugal. The Man

(pictured above) The sticky-sweet vocals and pretty piano pieces characteristic of Alaskan indie-rock favorite Portugal. The Man seem, at first glance, an unusual choice for the BUKU masses who have come to dance, but The Man has friends  in rhythmic places. The lifeblood of their last album, Evil Friends, pounds to the heartbeats of the illustrious Danger  Mouse, and most recently the band has been getting cozy in the studio with none other than Mike D of Beastie Boys infamy. The band’s new heartthrob has promised to push them even further, “make it bump  more, trap that shit out.” If the Mike D remix of “Modern Jesus” is any indication of what to expect from their upcoming set, the juxtaposition of D’s pumped-up drums  mingled with lead singer John Gourley’s distinctive castrato is about as close to sex as music can get. (AT)

 

Boosie BadAZZ

The prolific rapper, formerly known as Lil Boosie, has been a fixture in Southern hip-hop since his teens, collaborating early on with UGK’s Pimp C and Webbie. His lengthy discography even includes albums while imprisoned, although those were made mostly with old work. In recent years, he’s received more attention for his court drama, subsequent incarceration, and the viral Free Boosie campaign, but he’s out and returning to the spotlight as Boosie BadAzz. (KR)

 

SATURDAY 3/14

Raury

Raury is an 18 year-old MC-crooner from Atlanta who is a promising young prospect in the underground hip-hop scene. He evades easy classification.  Critics and fans are equally perplexed and excited by his music. His songs are all over the place musically, and eclectic in a creative way that is loose and genuinely surprising, gliding between soulful R&B and strong  Afrobeat electronica. Until 2014, most of Raury’s music appeared in singles and he had one song on the Mockingjay movie soundtrack. Columbia records  signed him to a deal and artists like Kanye West are trying to recruit him for various tours and projects. More importantly, the buzz surrounding his mixtape (Indigo Child) and live performances is starting to catch in the underground scene. “God’s Whisper” and “Superfly” are great examples of how Raury can make a tune stick to the bones when he hones in on a hook and a beat. (AM)

 

Passion Pit

antigravity_vol12_issue5_Page_17_Image_0002(pictured above) Passion Pit’s BUKU performance is their first set of a spring 2015 tour and their new album, Kindred, is set to release in April, so BUKU crowds should be in for a first glimpse of their new work. Passion Pit, whose first album, Chunks of Change, was written as a belated Valentine’s gift for lead singer and songwriter Angelakos’s girlfriend, is known for their upbeat rhythms that somehow evoke nostalgia even when you’ve never heard them before. Their music has remained remarkably consistent throughout the years, though many critics say Gossamer didn’t pack the same punch as “Sleepyhead,” “Moth’s Wings,” and some of the other tracks  from their first albums (although two of the tracks—“Constant Conversations” and the catchy “Take A Walk—are pretty memorable). To check out the first tracks of their new album Kindred, you can head to their new website  kindredthealbum.com or perhaps you’ll be treated to them live at BUKU. (KR)

 

TV On The Radio

The winds of change have tried to rock this band loose from its moorings over the past decade. They’ve moved from the East coast to the West, changed  record labels, and lost one of their key bandmates, bassist Gerard Smith, to the great gig in the sky. Despite all this, their sound has remained decidedly consistent. Seeds, released in November of 2014, is more polished  than their earlier recordings but still pulses with the same powerful rhythms that set them on their course to indie- rock stardom so many years ago. Lyrically, the optimism of tracks like “Golden Age” from the 2008 release  Dear Science has given way to a darker  worldview. Their latest single “Happy Idiot” ends with the lines “I’m gonna bang my head to the wall/‘til I feel nothing at all/I’m a happy idiot.” These are the lyrics of a band that has faced loss in the ensuing years, and I have a feeling that their specific, individual  pain speaks to a sentiment shared by the desperate youth and bloodthirsty babes of America as a whole. The golden age we promised ourselves is merely more of the same ol’ same ol’. Yet, they beat on. With anthemic tracks designed for a live audience, the hope is that their show at BUKU will be as formidable emotionally as it is viscerally, so long as you’re prepared to wax nostalgic with tracks from a more innocent past, and then dance your way to oblivion with the refrain “ignorance is bliss.” (AT)


The BUKU Music + Art Project takes place March 13th and 14th. For more info, check out thebukuproject.com

 

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