Ready to dance under the New Orleans sunshine again, Buku-goers gathered at the gates for Day 2 and began pouring in with high vibes. I heard many people talking about how they wished Buku Music + Arts Project was a 3-day festival, and honestly even as exhausted as I was by the end of the day, I would have been down to do it all again. That’s just how magical Buku is and we were definitely feeling the magic with another warm and beautiful day in NOLA. I loved seeing everyone in their fun outfits, taking photos and having a great time with their friends. Being a place to let go and express yourself in any way you want, Buku just feels so authentic and so necessary. From high school and college kids to older adults, Buku really is for everyone and it’s beautiful to see people come together for music and art in this way.
Now, on to the highlights of Day 2!
One of the more tame acts, Earl Sweatshirt brought an introspective persona that BUKU just wouldn’t bite. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside and Some Rap Songs, Earl’s two most recent studio albums, aren’t
exactly the most lively projects. In fact, they feel calm and lethargic, which you can probably guess how that would turn out at a festival known for its avid ravers. The performance took place at one of the outdoor stages and many seemed eager to see the youngest and most evolved member of Odd Future perform. Earl’s set consisted of three unreleased tracks, a few from his first two albums, but mostly his latest. Sidenote: *Listening to RZA chant “I’ll f*** the freckles off your face bit***” through “Molasses” on the backing track, still felt as lousy as it did on my headphones.* When Earl began rapping through Some Rap Songs, the bass amplified far too high, especially on “Nowhere2go” and “Shattered Dreams.” It became annoyingly difficult to hear him and the subtle samples that played such an essential part in his recent project. During “The Mint,” those die-hard Earl fans rapped along to what they could manage to hear while the majority of the crowd just talked over his performance, or just left. Around this point is where Earl’s DJ took a small jab at the crowd saying something along the lines of, “Don’t act too excited,” to which Earl gave a little chuckle to as well. It seemed like many wanted to see him perform more “hype” tracks from Doris but unfortunately for them, that wasn’t the case. Earl has evolved into much more than just a hype, young, troublemaker. Instead, he’s found himself in a complex jigsaw puzzle with each piece underlying things like depression and confusion. These keystones are what makes the new Earl so unique and they would have come across much clearer had this been in a much smaller setting.
Speaking of freedom of expression, Earthgang is one of the dopest rap groups out there who are doing things their way and not conforming to the rap ‘industry.’ A duo featuring Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot both from Atlanta, are signed to J. Cole’s label. However, they also co-founded their own musical collective with J.I.D, Hollywood JB, JordxnBryant, 6LACK (to name a few) called Spillage Village. They’ve been around for a while, but they definitely appeal to younger listeners and they brought so much energy the second they stepped on stage. Dancing, jumping around, and hyping the crowd up as they went hard rapping to their songs, the crowd reflected their energy as they knew every word and vibed along. Also a duo who are not afraid to send a political message with their music, they played “FDT” by YG, which everyone loved. They played many of their own newer music too, like their single “Proud of U” with Young Thug. Personally a fan of their older hits, I was a bit disappointed they didn’t play any throwbacks, but being a festival performance I think they still played a great set. It was an amazing way to kick off the last day of the festival with their high energy, unique style, and impressive bars.
Playing at the VIP stage, DJ and producer Kittens blew me away with a fantastic set. She’s from LA and grew up around music which gave way to a varied and well-rounded taste that when combined with her impressive DJing skills helped make her set so stellar. She played everything, and everyone was dancing from start to finish. Before she started playing, as she was setting up, many fans approached her and took photos as she was so friendly and warm. A huge smile on her face the whole time she was playing, it was clear that she’s not only incredibly talented but also just loves music and has a passion for what she’s doing. She often plays at clubs and venues around LA, but seeing her expand to playing festivals and shows around the country makes me happy because we need more authentic people, women, and diverse voices in electronic music. She started the set by playing one of her own hits, “Zanan and On,” which has stunning production with a modern EDM twist on a classic Persian-sounding tune, an ode to her Iranian roots. Kittens went on to play an incredible mix, from trap to house to future beat, she gave us a little taste of everyone while making it flow and putting her own unique touches on it. VIP sets like this make Buku’s amazing VIP perks even better, and I loved getting to stop by this stage and check out such a great artist.
Let me start off by saying this. A$AP Rocky blew my expectations far beyond what I imagined. After being pushed back 20 minutes due to technical difficulties, I honestly did get a tiny bit nervous considering the no-shows last year at BUKU, such as Lil Uzi Vert and Ski Mask. This time however, the show did go on. Despite his tardiness, at no fault to his own, Rocky took on the spotlight in front of thousands. He opened with his remix of “A$AP Forever” while wearing his disturbing testing mask. The moment he revealed his face, the crowd went wild. Listening to thousands of people sing “Praise the Lord” alongside Rocky was eventful despite the fact many around me just couldn’t understand the concept of timing (I’m a drummer; it irks us). “Telephone Calls” pretty much began one of many mosh-pits, to which Rocky even gave instructions on how to do so. There were multiple breaks between songs; some for Rocky to point out girls showing their chests, one for bringing someone on stage, and another to pay his respects to passed member Yams. Considering more than half of the crowd was probably partaking in some sort of drug-use, it was pretty much inevitable that he would perform “L$D.” All in all, it was pretty easy to tell Rocky had become a veteran performer at this point in his career. His confidence exceeded any performer I had seen at BUKU and gave one hell of a show. Despite that extremely creepy mask he wore for like half the performance, he was still nonetheless, that pretty mother******.