N.O. Hip-Hop Experience turns Congo Square into a block party at Jazz Fest _lowres

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- DJ Mike Swift performs on the Congo Square Stage during the N.O. Hip Hop Experience during the first day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Presented by Shell at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orle

Hip-hop always seems like a novelty at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell, even though it is New Orleans' most commercially successful sound in the last 25 years. It's partly a function of being a technology-based sound at a festival based on horns, but the New Orleans Hip-Hop Experience highlighted other issues.

The show took Congo Square Stage to the club--sometimes a loud club--complete with host Wild Wayne, who brought out acts for the revue, with DJ Mike Swift playing the hooks for "Turn Down for What" and other hits between acts. The sonic aggression was often at odds with the Jazz Fest vibe.

Aside from openers Partners-N-Crime, few artists looked ready for the big stage. One who did was Allie Baby, whose intensity and emcee skills were welcome after functional performances by Jimi Clever and T-Ray the Violinist.

The show's format didn't give acts more than a few minutes to catch fire, so it favored old school bounce artists Partners-N-Crime, who knew how to get a show in gear. It helped that they were joined by DJ Jubilee, a master at engaging an audience. The Big Easy Bounce Band behind them made their part of the set the clear winner as the show moved out of the club and became a block party.