Words by Angelique Moore
Photos by Maya Moore
Afropunk: The festival that boasts a sense of community and inclusiveness had a variety of performers, art, marketplaces, and overall vibe that’s contributed to its continued success. The festival started in 2005 in Brooklyn and brings a bigger audience each year and has expanded to the cities of London, Paris, and Johannesburg. The festival was created to give black punks a safe space to freely express themselves and interact in the predominately white rock/punk culture. The festival made sure to cater to every facet of blackness, with performers that represented a variety of genres. The festival did a flawless job of blending all aspects of the diaspora with the many diverse food trucks and marketplace full of books, clothing, and art.
Battle of the Band winners, Qaasim and the Juggernaut War Party opened up the festival with an energetic performance showcasing classical dance, hip-hop, and jazz. The Juggernauts woke everyone up with their creative fusion of rock, rap, and funk. Festival headliners SZA, Solange, and Raphael Saadiq of course brought the huge crowds. With her new album release CTRL, festival goers were most excited to see SZA. Her crowd belted the songs off her debut album and continued to vibe with her till the end when she closed with her album favorite, The Weekend. She danced and floated from one song to the next like an angelic songstress. Her energy was hypnotic and was almost uncontrollable the way you couldn’t help but to dance and sing along with her. While, Willow Smith, Jorja Smith, and NAO represented the newer faces in R&B and soul. Jorja Smith killed her first time on the Brooklyn’s festival stage with her relaxing and sultry voice.
Afropunk’s eclectic selection of DJ’s fostered the perfect environment for dance battles. With sets by Martina McFlyy, Sango, and LSDXOXO the crowds were kept lit in between sets. Unsurprisingly, self expression was the main theme of this festival and every attendee executed it beautifully and originally. From men wearing capes, skirts, and crowns to the ladies using this moment to have their fashion choices highlight their social and political views. Women wore shirts that boasted their views on gentrification, feminism, or went topless to reclaim their feminine forms as non sexual objects. The presentation of big afros, dreads, and braids adorned with flowers and jewels showed that hair was just as important the music.
Walking through the festival’s gate, it was apparent that this is a place for love. Hanging from each stage were banners that boasted: “No Sexism, No Racism, No Ableism, No Ageism, No Homophobia, No Fatphobia, No Transphobia, No Hatefulness.” There was not an ounce of any of these this weekend and the festival attendees would not have permitted it either.