Arts

Avant-Garde Blackness Of Afropunk’s Lineup: Alternative Approach To Black Excellence

Apart from its cutting-edge musical lineup, Afropunk, which takes place this weekend, features multiple facets to its event, including an “activism row” reflective of the festival’s socially conscious messaging and philosophy.
Apart from its cutting-edge musical lineup, Afropunk, which takes place this weekend, features multiple facets to its event, including an “activism row” reflective of the festival’s socially conscious messaging and philosophy.
Credit Erin Davis / VOX ATL
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By Erin Davis

As the weekend of Oct 13-14 approaches, the city bustles and buzzes with the anticipation of an influx of upcoming activity, which most notably includes the Afropunk Atlanta music festival, which will run both days.

The Afropunk festival is not only a diverse multicultural music fest that has an international influence and platform, but also a growing movement of non-conforming, forward-looking creatives and individuals who live fearlessly and authentically within their unique truth.

Though the concept of Afropunk originated from a documentary on the influences and inspections of African-American culture and punk rock, it evolved into an international music festival celebrating the innovative and unique creative voices within communities often overlooked by mainstream media and culture.

Currently run by co-founder Matthew Morgan, Afropunk’s culture is driven by a subculture of individuals whose radical expression interweaves activism with art, music, creative expression and, of course, unapologetic blackness. These “Afropunkers” are the emerging influencers and creatives shaping this unique facet of pop-cultural, and celebrating the avant-garde.

Apart from its cutting-edge musical lineup, Afropunk features multiple facets to its event, including an “activism row” reflective of the festival’s socially conscious messaging and philosophy. The festival also showcases various forms of visual art and installation, serving as a platform for underground and emerging artists to exhibit unconventional forms of expression.

Additionally, Afropunk is the Mecca for alternative black expression, and it shows in the daring fashion choices of the festival-goers. Afropunk is most definitely a festival in which creativity is worn tangibly on the skin for the world to ponder and celebrate.

The Afropunk lineup has much evolved from its DIY punk-esque roots, and currently showcases artists such as The Internet, Pusha-T and N.E.R.D., who are the headliners of the Atlanta 2018 festival.

However, this year’s lineup particularly stands out not because of its bolded names, but because of the diverse variety of its musical styles, which are more reflective of the festival’s more experimental and soulful influences.

The must-see sets include Kaytranada, who returns to the Afropunk stages to bring the show to a no doubt transcendent close. Kaytranada’s alternative take on house intermingles hip-hop influence with pulsing dark beats and low-key melodies with disco feels. His set is sure to mesmerize crowds in the festival’s final performance.

Additionally, Benjamin Booker’s wicked, gravel-voiced crooning will also be a highlight of the various performances on the Saturday schedule. His throaty lines sure to be delivered with the raw honesty and emotion that Booker’s work is hallmarked for, as seen in his 2017 album “Witness.”

Noname, an artist set apart due to her intriguing anonymity and chill prose-like lyricism is also a set sure to stun on the Sunday schedule. Her soulful rap and soft beats are guaranteed to sway crowds of Afropunkers to her emotional, poetic sound.

Not to be counted out, one cannot overlook flourishing musician Serpentwithfeet, who brings a fascinating, multi-genre approach to neo-soul that blends classical and gospel sounds with R&B beats and soulful influences. The genius of the alt-soul artist’s powerfully poignant 2018 album “soil” promises a tearjerkingly emotive performance Saturday in the evening hours of the festival.

Overall, Afropunk’s 2018 festival lineup delivers on its promise of diversity and innovation, as well as sets an unprecedented standard for musical and creative excellence.

Erin Davis is a photographer, journalist and creative who strives to document and celebrate the unconventional and unseen subcultures within the Atlanta arts scene.

This story was published at VOXAtl.com, Atlanta’s home for uncensored teen publishing and self-expression. For more about the nonprofit VOX, visit www.voxatl.org.