BUKU boasts set lists of surprises, bastions of beat
If you squeeze your eyes shut very tightly and then open them very quickly, you’ll be able to see — if just for a second — a little bit of BUKU Music + Art Project 2017.
Those little flecks of color dancing in front of you in that weird nowhere of space is a little preview of the upcoming festival, courtesy of The Vermilion: your premier source of news since 1904.
Looking forward to BUKU, here are a few can’t miss performances, sourced by I, intrepid reporter and model student.
Run the Jewels
The superduo hit the ground running with the Christmas Day surprise drop of “Run the Jewels 3,” a ferocious blast of political insurrection and attitude.
Pummeling beats decorated with skittering hi-hats, ticks and blips have an energy that in one moment complements and then spins to juxtapose Killer Mike and El-P’s verses.
Instrumentally, RTJ3 is comparable to its two predecessors: Consistently sonically delightful, seldom dull and lending itself to the overarching theme of the record.
RTJ3 is almost impossibly tense: Establishing and then curating the teeth-gritting revolutionary mentality that boils throughout the record. It has no explicit catharsis because, for Run the Jewels, there is simply no time. There’s no time in these times for a feel-good endorphin release — even though it will happen independent of their promptings, a side-effect of the record.
Run the Jewels are urgent, hard and as fun as they are angry.
Track to check out: “Talk to Me.”
The dynamite collaboration between GRiZ and Gramatik seems almost built for New Orleans.
The partners’ exploration of funked-out Motown dancetracks take root in GRiZ’s Motown past-as-future mentality that trash-compacts brass and bass and Gramatik’s vibrant synth beats. Jet-propelled through a spiraling, telescopic Saturday night fever lense, GRiZMATiK’s approach to hybridization feels fresh, sharp, a little dangerous and, most importantly, doesn’t have that weird, sanitized, white-wine SUV sheen that seems to accompany so many nu-funk groups.
Track to check out: “As We Proceed.”
There are some things that the California sun can’t warm. There are some places so dark and devoid of hope that the only way to stay warm is erase the future from your perception of reality. Long Beach’s Vince Staples stands grimly in those shadows, almost lackadaisically drawing stark commentaries on dead-end race-wars on dead-end streets, dead-end families and dead-end lives throughout 2015’s full-length “Summertime ‘06” and last years “Prima Donna” EP.
Occasionally, you think he’s about to bring some semblance of redemption into the story arc, but it twists out faster than you can say, “hello, nihilism.” The imagined conversation he has with God on judgment day in “Turn,” where he acknowledges and then rejects the god who he deems to have ignored him and lied to him, encapsulates Staples role as the antithesis to the spirituality and hope of Kendrick and Chance.
Staples isn’t here for a good time: he’s here to tell a story and it’s a story you can hardly tear yourself away from.
Track to check out: “Lift Me Up.”
Last year’s excellent “JEFFERY” was essentially an existential rumination on identity in a world fueled by subjective notions of objectivity.
It was a dense album that cloaked its mission underneath titles built to be simultaneously misdirections and homages (all the tracks were named in tribute to his idols: Kanye, Future, Harambe, among others.) Buried between non-sequiturs, beneath an aggressive sexuality and glistening with mesmerizing, complex instrumentation lies a thread of studied awareness of shifting paradigm and future swag.
Track to check out: “Swizz Beatz.”
Car Seat Headrest
BUKU 2017’s indie/alternative touchstone, Will Toledo’s bedroom-rock project is coming off 2016’s acclaimed “Teens of Denial” album that made numerous end-of-year best-of lists.
Toledo’s incisive and introspective math-class poetry plays out in a way that is simultaneously heartbreaking and funny: lines like “So there I was, just another s***bag civilian / afraid of the cops when I was outside, afraid of my friends when I was inside” and “Drugs are better with friends are better with drugs” demonstrate his prowess at manipulating syntax and grammar to reveal the möbius strip of self-aware self-destruction prevalent in his song’s characters.
Track to check out: “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales.”
BUKU Music + Art Project takes place March 10-11 on the banks of the Mississippi River. GA 2-day passes are going for $189.99.