Afropunk Music Festival was founded in 2005 and is one of the largest black music festivals in New York City. Its name perfectly encapsulates and embodies the role that the festival sought to fulfil – create a safe and expressive place for black punks and alternatives.
Over recent years, the individuals who Afropunk was created for, no longer feel at home and that their once safe space, has been encroached, commodified and gentrified. This can largely be attributed to the Festival starting to charge as it once was a free event. In order for one to get a ticket, you had to volunteer within the area. The festival selling out months before August was met with much outrage on various social media platforms as individuals could often get tickets on the day. On top of this, Afropunk attendees, Ericka Hart, Ebony Donnley, Lorelei Black were reportedly removed the festival for protesting the festival by wearing shirts which said “afropunk sold out for white consumption”.
Admist all of this, Afropunk is beautiful and has maintained the ambience it initially sought to create. Upon entering, one can only marvel at the sea of black beauty which is thrusted at your eyes. At my first Afropunk in 2017 I was overwhelmed and enamoured by everything I was seeing and this year was no different. What was within the gates of Afropunk 2018 was a sensational spectrum of black skin cloaked in the most elaborate and expressive outfits, a beautiful picture of afrocentric and punk celebration from men and women in varying ages and sizes.
This year’s Saturday line up was simply stellar as were their performances. It included a slew of punk DJ’s and more notable alternative R&B artists such as H.E.R, The Internet, Smino & Daniel Caesar. H.E.R jumped from every musical instrument on stage with the greatest ease showcasing her skill and proficiency and The Internet performed a perfect medley of Ego Death and Hive Mind tracks. Daniel Caesar entranced us with his sublime vocals. And of course he later joined H.E.R during her set to perform Best Part. And Miguel never dropped a note despite summersaulting and sprinting to and from each end of the stage.
Kaytranada’s set was the most fitting way to end the festival. Performing a flawless set comprising of his older and newer tracks, he had the crowd eating directly out of his palm. Afropunk wouldn’t have been as sensational without the attendees. It’s almost impossible to escape the “Yass Queen” or “F*ck it up” which were being hurled in every direction. People are fab, kind and just there to have a brilliant time. Irrespective of the issues which afropunk may be experiencing, it didn’t fail to disappoint. Thanks AP, till next year!