AFROPUNK FESTIVAL 2017 EXPERIENCE
Last weekend was one like no other, as I had the pleasure of attending Afropunk London on behalf of BackstAAAge and it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time.
Not knowing what to expect, all I had to go by was the lineup and everything I read online and on social media. That being said I had a great time at Afropunk as the music, art, atmosphere and vibe was well worth the hype.
Doors to the Afropunk festival opened around 1 pm and I enthusiastically arrived at 2pm. Before the first act was up I was able to wander around the huge warehouse that was Printworks and take in the sights which included 2 market places, the Green and Red stages and food trucks in the outside area of the warehouse.
The music officially kicked off at 3 pm with Kojey Radical setting things off on the Red Stage. He came through with a fire set getting the audience hyped for what was to come for the rest of the day. His energy was high and he really got the crowd going.
Following Kojey Radical’s set, another great performance of the day was a BackstAAAge regular the one and only Nadia Rose. Along with her girl squad, including DJ Nadia Jae on the decks, her performance was definitely a highlight.
Her set included bangers such as 2H2H, Skwod, U Know What and Tight Up. Definitely one of the favourites. Nadia gave the crowd a performance worth while and made the most of her half hour on stage. We 100 % wanted more!
Another performer that killed Saturday was Little Simz, the North London rapper took the stage and came through with a stellar performance. She blew the crowd away and brought out special guests Ghetts as well as Sid from The Internet making the crowd go crazy. When Simz performed ‘Wings’ it totally went off!! One thing to be noted is that even though there were only a few Grime and Hip Hop artists on the lineup they still represented and got so much love from the crowd.
Aside from the headliners The Internet, another key performance of Saturday night had to be the Grime king JME. JME really brought the party to the red stage and the crowd was turnt up to the max all the way through. The BBK member performed tunes such as Don’t @ Me, Calm, Man Don’t Care and even gave us an exclusive performance of his new song ‘You Watching Me’. The crowd was hyped the bass was loud and JME definitely delivered.
Following Saturday’s full afternoon of music, I once again got myself together and braved myself for round 2. If Saturday was the takeover of Grime and Hip Hop than Sunday was definitely for the ladies. If there was a hashtag to be prominent on Sunday then #BLACKGIRLMAGIC was it. With the ladies really coming through I believe there were only 3 male acts on the lineup Black Collective, Mickey and Thundercat.
Considering there is always a conversation around the number of female performers when it comes to festival line-ups it was great to see a day filled with some incredible female talent come through Afropunk. Ranging from a variety of genres I was really here for it. Kicking off the festival was DJ Jamz Supernova who got the tunes going with a killer mix getting everybody ready for what was to come.
Mahalia the young Midlands singer took the Red stage and got the crowd going with her soul-pop vibe with tracks including, Superhuman, Independence Day, Proud of Me and even giving us an acapella performance. Mahalia showed good stage presence and engaged with the audience really well. Look out for her!
One of the highlights for me was DJ Hannah Faith who took the stage and gave us a set that was on fire. I am okay with DJ sets for about 10 minutes before I have to explore other things but I was locked to both of Hanna’s sets for the full 30 minutes bringing the vibes and really getting the Afropunk crowd pumped.
I think I will not be alone when I say the stand out performance was NAO. The British Neo-Soul singer killed her performance on the Green stage bringing the soul to Afropunk.
NAO performed a lot of hits from her latest album ‘For All We Know’ songs included, Girlfriend, Fool to Love, So Good and much more. Everybody seemed to agree that NAO’s set could’ve been the headliner as it just brought through the vibes that Afropunk was all about capturing.
The last performance I saw before I called an end to my Afropunk experience was American sensation, Willow Smith. A surprising addition to the lineup I didn’t really know what to expect. My last music experience of Willow was about 7 years ago when she came on the scene with Whip My Hair. Since then she has been kind of quiet, I even forgot that she was still making music.
However, all that being said Willow was surprisingly good. Clearly matured and grown in the past couple of years her voice is not the poppy sound we heard before. With a more rustic sound, she has clearly evolved. The crowd was certainly here for it and gave her a very positive reaction to her set.
I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t know a single one of her songs that she performed but a couple of her songs were good. Willow definitely surprised everybody with her energy and stage presence and got the crowd hyped for the last performance of the weekend.
Whilst the music was a big part the Afropunk festival experience, I have to take a moment and speak of the other parts of the festival. The market stalls, which featured various traders selling a range of different products all with brands connected to or inspired by the Afropunk community were there, from jewellery, clothing stores, Tribal print face painting, to afro hair products, head wraps and much more.
Ghanaian artist Dreph_ showcased his amazing artwork and we even got a glimpse of some pieces being painted live at the event. His work clearly represents Afropunk culture from his wall paintings in Shoreditch to his inspiration it was great to see art that so clearly captured the essence and feel of the festival so clearly.
Nothing short of eccentric the fashion and street style of Afropunk attendees were really a celebration. From colourful braids and hairstyles to eccentric and colourful clothing everything about the atmosphere and style of the festival was a celebration of the Afropunk’s style and influence. There were so many African prints and colour combinations, as well as Afro-hair and just everything about representing and being true to yourself. People, were not shy about being who they are.
Overall the BackstAAAge Afropunk experience was nothing short of amazing. It felt really good to be part of a celebration of many different people coming together to celebrate the Afropunk community. The music, the food, the market, the art, the fashion and the people was amazing.
BackstAAAge cannot wait to be at the next one and continue this wonderful festival and what it stands for.
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