by Almaz Messgna
Photography by Jackie Robertson
AfroPunk — the seminal music event celebrating those that have been othered in a place for us, by us, took over Commodore Barry Park for two soul-binding and reaffirming days. For the past 13 years, the Brooklyn based festival has brought hundreds and now thousands of Black people together to openly celebrate their Blackness in an environment that appreciates the gifts and nuances of Black culture. Embracing Black punks, a community further othered because of their skin, is the cornerstone of Afropunk, but this year Afropunk continued their expansion into soul, embracing the young R&B leaders at the forefront of politically influenced music.
On day one, the Saint Heron Stage was headlined by matriarch Solange and featured the genius of Sampha, KING and Afropunk-alum Thundercat. Smaller stages brought fans, both new and old, to witness Jorja Smith, Leikeli47, Macy Gray, Princess Nokia, Quín, SZA and The Skins. Afropunk would be amiss to neglect their roots, and once again, they hosted some of the biggest names in experimental and punk (Ho99o9, BURN, B L A C K I E, Rebelmatic).
Attendees flocking to AfroPunk are also known for the most intricate and bold outfits — maximizing the use of print and exposure of skin. As one of the few safe spaces for people of color at this size, fans of AfroPunk embrace styles they might not be comfortable or even allowed to wear outside of the park grounds. Neon colored hair, freed breasts, afros and jewels are a few of the most popular focal points on the outfits this year. As a celebration of Blackness and all of its forms, AfroPunk is a space for boundary pushing, experimentation and liberation. For over a decade, attendees have tested the norm. Now, they are awarded and recognized by leading fashion publications who have long ignored this demographic and the phenomenal trends that come out of this gathering.
Needless to say, AfroPunk is the ultimate celebration of a community that has long been denied the ability to express ourselves. Despite the possible repercussions, Black people have continued to set trends throughout the world, taking cues from our ancestors who withheld our culture and identity from being watered down from the masses. This appreciation of identity is the core of what brings the Black community together annually to celebrate all that we’ve been through, all that we currently face and all that we expect to experience in the future.
For the full story and more content, get your copy of Phosphenes #4 – “Music”