Afropunk Fest, now in its ninth year, has been celebrating “the other Black experience” since 2004. The impetus for the festival originally grew out of the the 2003 cult classic documentary Afro-Punk, which coined the term, and which told the story of Black punk rock kids, who were on the pulse of a movement that they weren’t necessarily included in.
Since then, Afropunk has grown to include not only lovers of punk rock, but hip hop, indie rock, reggae, pop, bounce and whatever is hip, urban and urbane. What started as a fringe festival now boasts major acts, including Erykah Badu, TV on the Radio, Janelle Monae and Questlove.
This past weekend, I hit up the Afropunk Fest at Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park, but before that, I fell for a fake rumor: That Jay-Z would be playing at AP Café in Bushwick. NBD. What I found in both places was a sprawling legion of people embodying subcultural styles and motifs–90s, Neo-Nubian and classic Brooklyn hipster. Lots of camouflage, flamo, vintage denim and handcrafted Indian/West African accessories. Even amid eye-popping acts like Chuck D, LE1F and the adorable sixth-grade heavy metal band, Unlocking the Truth, the crowd was certainly as fascinating–if not more–than the stage.
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Tanwi Nandini Islam is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Check out her project Hi Wildflower, a blog about fashion, beauty and botany blooming on the fringes. Follow her @tanwinandini.