During a period where punk was predominantly - and perhaps overwhelmingly white - Afropunk (and subsequently AFROPUNK FEST) was born; a space, and eventual international platform, for black artistry and identity to flourish that may or may not have had the opportunity to do so in other respective scenes.
Soon after the movement's beginnings, AFROPUNK FEST went global, spreading to Atlanta, London, Johannesburg, and Paris for instance, but Brooklyn's flagship festival remains the nerve centre for this culturally diverse celebration after nearly fifteen years.
Originating as a community for black punks, the festival became increasingly inclusive to artists, creators, and designers that reflect African-American culture, and the movement is as wide-ranging and fertile as ever. Just take a look at this year's headliners; FKA Twigs, Kamasi Washington, Death Grips, and Santigold alone emphasise Afropunk's diverse ethos.
Beyond these, diversity trickles down into each crevice of an intriguing, genre-bending lineup, and we've highlighted our picks:
Garnering the kind of acclaim reserved for consistently boundary defining veterans, nu-soul upstart Kelsey Lu draws from the darker recesses of R&B, resulting in an arresting, experimental aesthetic that fits her totally naturally. Her debut full-length album Blood continues to astound after months on repeat, as will seeing her in the flesh.
Abbreviated from 'Bantu Continued Uhuru Consciousness' (thankfully, for conversation's sake), the South African-conceived collective formed in 2003, but only recently have warranted attention from overseas. 'Ebb and flow' is paramount to the band's dynamic, who feel concurrently traditional, forward-thinking, and delightfully joyous.
Well, I guess the simplest way to describe this Los Angeles-based duo is a melting pot of abrasive hip hop, DIY-punk riffs, and boundless heavy metal energy. Since forming, they've developed a cult following for theatrical, ferocious, and sweat-drenched live shows; taking a towel to the mosh-pit is recommended.
With the moniker Junglepussy, you'd probably already aware that New York native Shayna McHayle isn't exactly the shy and retiring type when approaching themes of sexuality, black identity, and self-love. Her unabashed demeanour has been lauded by elder states(wo)men in Erykah Badu and Lil' Kim; ironically, her modus operandi to be as abrasive and unapologetic as she sees fit. Just the way it should be, then.
Tank and the Bangas
Led by Tarriona 'Tank' Ball, TatB's have been somewhat of a revelation over the past few years; undeniably soulful, the group incorporates elements of jazz, funk, and spoken word resulting in a fusion of Deep South heart with West Coast cool. The six-piece collective a riot on stage, offering theatrical, unpredictable performances that ooze with emotion and enthusiasm.
AFROPUNK FEST Brooklyn 2019 takes place this weekend in Commodore Barry Park, Brooklyn. Join the waiting list to receive updates for the next edition.