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Buku Music Fest Returns To NOLA With Bigger Lineup

By STACEY PLAISANCE

NEW ORLEANS (AP) â¿¿ Hip-hop singer Big Freedia and an entourage of booty-shaking "bounce" dancers are using a Mardi Gras float for a stage when the Buku music festival returns to New Orleans this weekend.

The two-day Buku Music + Art Project, a hip-hop and electronic dance music festival launched last year, is back for a second year, with about two dozen more acts and four stages instead of two.

The festival is being held Friday and Saturday at Mardi Gras World, the huge studio and warehouse on the bank of the Mississippi River where Carnival floats are made. The lineup is diverse, with Scottish-born DJ Calvin Harris, Ohio rapper Kid Cudi, the British electronic music trio Nero, 1980s rap group Public Enemy and dozens of other acts.

Among the locals in the lineup is New Orleans native Big Freedia.

"We're coming to rock the party, and it's going to be beaucoup fun," said Freedia, the openly gay performer whose real name is Freddie Ross. "I'm in my zone on my home turf in New Orleans, and it's going to be crazy."

The self-proclaimed "queen diva" and his dancers deliver a hypersexual show packed with booty-shaking moves to upbeat dance music known locally as "bounce" music. The genre is a fusion of hip-hop and quick, repetitive dance beats with heavy bass. It usually includes call-and-response vocals â¿¿ a nod to early rap and Mardi Gras Indian roots music.

"The Mardi Gras Indians, they did the call and response first," Freedia said. "They were around way before the rappers, and that's why bounce is such a big part of our culture here. This is our roots."

Freedia, who takes the stage on Saturday, is one of the few bounce artists with international exposure, having toured Europe, Australia and other countries as well as most of the U.S. He has a documentary and full-length album in the works.

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