Towards the end of their set, the lead singer of Vintage Trouble said something along the lines of: afro and punk might seem like opposites but they actually go together really well. While I love Vintage Trouble, they’re wrong. Historically afro and punk weren’t mutually exclusive, e.g. Bad Brains, Fishbone and Dead Kennedys. You see, a lot of afro-wearing dudes and dudettes have rocked out with their cocks out (Lenny I had to do it) throughout the decades. Afropunk is merely a celebration of that and nothing new.
Afropunk is the friendliest music festival by far. It’s amazing how throwing out a mantra like ‘no sexism, no racism, no ableism, no ageism, no homophobia, no fatphobia, no transphobia, no hatefulness’ returns adherence. If only government worked this well. This is the first year, however, that Afropunk has charged. Up until last year a donation and a smile would get you in, but this year marked the first time Afropunk charged for entrance. But to be honest, at $75 for two days of bliss, they’re still the most wallet-friendly of the summer festival lineup.
Plus Afropunk delivered. I’ll start with Lenny, who performed on Sunday, as a semi put him on blast earlier. He is timeless and embodies what Afropunk is all about. It was like a homecoming, which makes sense as Kravitz spent a lot of time in Brooklyn (Bed-Stuy to be exact) during his childhood. His sound was flawless and his performance of “I Belong To You” was so sexy I thought everyone was going to start taking their clothes off spontaneously (more about freeing the nipple later on).
Afropunk seemed to have a girls day/boys day vibe with many of the woman headliners performing on Saturday. Kelis was great. Her sound was reminiscent of yesteryear. The same cannot be said for Lauryn. The first time I got my own CD, there were actual two. One was Britney Spears’ ‘...Baby One More Time’ and the other was ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.’ I will forever argue that Miseducation is one of the best albums ever made and it is an encapsulation of all of my teenage angst (who am I kidding, and my adult angst). Because of this I refuse, just refuse, to blame Lauryn’s sound on Lauryn. Afropunk, I blame you for not being able to hear Lauryn over her rock-heavy band. My delusional self, however, can admit that even if I could hear Lauryn in the faint distance I wouldn’t know what she was saying and I didn’t recognize any of the songs.
But then came Grace. Did you know Grace Jones is almost 70?! By the buoyancy of her boobs (still not my ‘free the nipple’ segment kids scroll further down for that), you wouldn’t know. You see, Queen Grace came out topless. And performed her segment topless. And slayed. Not only is her voice as powerful as ever, as if you gave Eartha Kitt a cigar and a megaphone, but her command of the crowd had nothing to do with nostalgia for Studio54 days and everything to do with her sheer star power.
While headliners are great, What Afropunk does best is showcase the little guy. The up-and-comer. And that they did. I hate to call Vintage Trouble an up-and-comer, as they performed last year. They were amazing as usual. The lead singer is everything Bruno Mars wishes he could be.
I was really stoked for Raury. And I wasn’t disappointed. Not too into the Sisqo hair but totally into the repertoire. He kept the crowd going at that weird 4:15pm time when people aren’t drunk enough to rock out. Thundercat did the same.
The thing about Afropunk is that it’s not just about music. It’s about action. I love that you can drunkenly wander into a booth for ‘Her Agenda’, or ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ or register to vote. Awareness and respect are at the core of Afropunk.
I always look forward to Afropunk. And to be honest I thought having to pay for a ticket would cheapen the experience but it did the opposite. The vibe is still the same and you feel like you’ve invested in something in which you’re guaranteed to get a return, unlike that stock market thing that crashed this week. Anyway, Afropunk 2016 anyone? I’ll be there.
Freeing the Nipple - so many girls were exercising their right (it’s legal in NYC BTW)
Black Trans Lives Matter
Jennifer explaining what ‘Her Agenda’ is all about and giving me a Miss Jessie giftbag
Purple Rain by The Lipbar
Kylie Jenner Syndrome EVERYWHERE
Sunday was pretty dead (Until Lenny)
Loooooooong Lines - I heard too many horror stories of people waiting in line so long just to have missed the band they were waiting in line for.