NEW ORLEANS — With hip-hop artists increasingly collaborating with electronic dance music acts, a new music festival is launching this weekend that is devoted entirely to those two genres.
Hip-hop artists such as Big K.R.I.T. and Wiz Khalifa will share the stage with recent Grammy-winner Skrillex, Diplo and A-Trak during the Buku Music + Art Project, a two-day music festival being held Saturday and Sunday at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, where Carnival floats are made.
Grammy-nominated DJ and producer Diplo, who has worked with M.I.A. and Usher among others, is one of the highlights of the lineup.
"Diplo is a perfect example of that crossover artist we're celebrating at Buku," said Dante DiPasquale of Winter Circle Productions, the New Orleans-based company producing the event.
Big K.R.I.T., who performs at Buku on Sunday, said he appreciates what electronic music brings to hip-hop and understands why so many artists are incorporating electronic "move beats" in their work. He said he's open to dabbling in the genre but will do so carefully.
"The thing is you have to figure out a way to make it blend but where it still sounds like you," said the Meridian, Miss., rapper. "I still want my music to have that soul and embrace the fact that I'm country. My tone, my southern slang, that's all part of my music."
Big K.R.I.T., whose real name is Justin Scott and acronym stands for "King Remembered In Time," applauds Buku for blending the two genres and their fan bases.
"It's extremely dope," he said. "I can't wait for everyone to hear what I do and have that opportunity to hear what they do."
DiPasquale said he expects Buku to draw some 7,000 music fans per day based on current ticket sales.
"For any first-time festival you at least want to break even, and with 7,000 each day we'd be passing that mark," he said.
Buku will include two stages set among Carnival floats and props at Mardi Gras World. Producers are also bringing in paintings, sculptures and a grafitti wall. The lineup includes Avicii, EDM, Big Gigantic and several up-and-coming artists such as Porter Robinson, SBTRKT and Figure.
New Orleans hip-hop artists Fly Boy Keno and Big Chu and the Crew will also take the stage. Both groups are known for their use of New Orleans bounce beats – a fusion of hip-hop and dance beats using quick, repetitive beats with a brief melody and drum machines. New Orleans bounce music takes a nod from Mardi Gras Indian chants, DiPasquale said.
"It just wouldn't be right to have a festival in New Orleans without bounce music," he said. "We're putting them on the main stage."