By Akili King
Photography by Maria Marrone
AFROPUNK is nothing short of a Utopia. A heaven on Earth. On August 26th and 27th, every inch of Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park was filled with love, dancing, warmth and spirituality. You look around and see people of all ages and skin tones; people braiding each other's hair and women shouting “yasssss” as they watch their fellow queens slay. It is the perfect representation of just how diverse the black community is. From the funky outfits, platforms, mesh tops, and African-printed dresses, to the braids, fros, and flowing locs—it is simply magic. In the ten or so years that the festival has been around, violence and arrests have been few and far between. To say the least, the festival was the break most of the attendees needed from all of the negativity happening in the world right now. The hype man at Sunday’s red stage said it best: “This is how we make America great!”
Saturday was crowded but otherwise a more than perfect day to boogie and enjoy the ethereal vibes of the festival. The sun was gleaming and bouncing off of melanin left and right. Princess Nokia stunned the crowd with her impeccable balance of spirituality and high energy tunes to get her loyal fans turned up. Leading with songs like “Tomboy”, followed by a tasteful twerk, and leaving fans with the simple yet powerful words, “you matter,” Nokia’s onlookers were left energized for the rest of the evening. Willow Smith came with soulful rock vibes and a fun rendition of “Whip My Hair”. SZA, pretty in pink, serenaded us with hits from album Ctrl. The night was topped off with a red-lit Solange performance filled with angelic vocals from A Seat at the Table, quirky dance moves, and an ode to Penny Proud.
Day two was breezy and spacious. Kevin Abstract and boyband BROCKHAMPTON brought in high energy along with a dash of teenage angst as loyal fans passionately sang along to songs such as “SWAMP” and “GOLD”. He chatted with us after and succinctly but accurately described the AFROPUNK experience to be “very colorful and exciting.” London-based singer NAO amazed the audience with her unique voice and insane range and ended on a high note with “Bad Blood”. The smooth crooner Anderson Paak, dressed in a yellow trench coat and a Kenzo Paris t-shirt, shook the crowd with his intense bass and his funky hip-hop and R&B flows. He later surprised the crowd when he popped up for DJ KAYTRANADA’s set, who had everybody and their mama moving their feet. The moonlit night ended on a high and jazzy note with Raphael Saadiq’s sparkly suit and hits such as “Dance Tonight”.
If you missed out on this year’s amazing AFROPUNK festival, be sure to check out our exclusive photo recap above to vicariously experience it all. See you next year!
To learn more about the AFROPUNK community, visit AFROPUNK.com.
In the making of DRØME we hope to showcase a community of doers and nourish an attitude of empathy in a world that teaches us to pass judgment rather than practice kindness. The stories, images, and people shared in this magazine are an amalgamation of perspectives often overlooked or explicitly excluded from art and media worlds. The dearth of diverse identities and viewpoints within the arts is harrowing, especially for a young generation that is fighting its hardest to overcome conservative notions of order ultimately practiced as acts of discrimination against the very people and things we find most inspiring. In DRØME, the featured creators and creations encourage us to never shy away from who we are and what we want. Each artist, in sharing their story, embodies their own definition of agency. Against a mainstream ideology that indoctrinates patriarchal, capitalist, and hateful theories turned into policy, the artists in our first issue represent the ways in which art can take power back from society's denigrating control.