BUKU to host electric soundboard of local, national artists
BUKU Music + Art Project will celebrate its sixth year this weekend as deadmau5 and Travis Scott headline the colorful, eclectic homage to New Orleans’s street subculture.
The festival has a lineup built from some of today’s best electronic, hip-hop and indie acts and is held at New Orleans’ Mardi Gras World against a background of stark industrialism, which neatly accentuates the sense of youthful celebration-by-reappropriation of consumerist enterprise distilled in BUKU’s focus on local graffiti and street artists.
Curated this year by art director Dogslobber, the fan-favorite Live Graffiti Gallery will feature 14 local artists demonstrating their ability on 10-by-eight foot panels that will be auctioned off at the end of the festival with proceeds going to Animal Rescue New Orleans and Upbeat Academy Foundation, a program that offers mentorship and education in the essential technical and creative skills involved in the production and performance of hip-hop and electronic music for at-risk youth.
The festival’s celebration of graffiti and street art provides a safe-space for the creative expression involved in street art, an expression, which many object to as being not art, but defacement of public property. Graffiti is an anti-establishment art form, and to have this inherent anti-establishmentarianism essentially removed by sponsorship from an established corporate entity could raise parallels between the exploitation of graffiti style by corporations looking for something “edgy” or “cool” to increase their youth appeal.
Lu Olivero, a freelance journalist and director of “AEROSOuL CARIOCA”, a documentary highlighting street art in Rio de Janeiro, wrote in a 2014 New York Times opinion piece that “the arbitrary nature of how graffiti is removed or preserved highlights an interesting dissonance: the social-political oligarchy rejects the artist, and the conditions that create the art, unless the art is somehow accepted on the establishment’s terms.”
BUKU Music + Art Project avoids this ideological compromise in their enthusiastic dedication to the underlying principles behind street art and graffiti: free expression, colorful and wild.
The live art installation is an example of the interactive evolvement of the festival that makes BUKU stand apart from its contemporaries. From start to finish, you watch the event grow around you: designated “Bukulture” curators handpick artists, dancers, chefs and more to introduce—seemingly at random—into the festivities, instilling an element of spontaneity and off-the-wall electricity into the air.
A previous piece by yours truly, professional poseur and ladies’ man, highlighted a few of the acts performing that I recommend as “can’t-miss”:
Run the Jewels are flaming hot after unexpectedly dropping “Run the Jewels 3” on Christmas Day 2016, and if their set is half as tight and explosive as RTJ3 I can guarantee a revolution.
GRiZMATiK is a collaboration between producers GRiZ and Gramatik that seems, in its trash-compacted funk EDM Frankenstein creation, to have been engineered specifically for the neon dance party that flows through New Orleans’ dirty streets.
Like a car-wreck you can’t take your eyes from, Vince Staples is a storyteller. Drawing stark commentaries on dead-end race-wars on dead-end streets, dead-end families and dead-end lives, Staples stands grimly in the shadows of nihilism and disillusionment. Like a car wreck, he’s not here for a good time, and he will — or should — change the way you think.
Young Thug’s identity-dysphoric “JEFFREY” was a fascinating record, not in just its thematic approach to “self” and its wack instrumentation, but in what it means for the future of rap. The advent of “mumble rap” (rap, which utilizes unintelligibility as a creative linguistic tool or, as its detractors say, to disguise lack of ability) put Young Thug at the forefront of the debate. Some say it’s a de-evolution of the wordplay that characterizes rap, but when it’s done as well as Young Thug does, it’s an innovative leap-forward in expression through not just wordplay, but soundplay.
Car Seat Headrest is the project of Will Toledo, whose incisive and introspective math-class poetry plays out over post-garage bedroom-rock in a way that is simultaneously heartbreaking and funny. 2016’s acclaimed “Teens of Denial” album made best-of lists across the country and he’s consistently one of the most insightful examiners of this millennium’s teens of style and denial.
Tickets are still available for BUKU Music + Arts Project, which takes place this March 10-11. Single day passes are $99.99; two-day passes go for $189.99.
Find me there, and I’ll give you a high-five.