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AFROPUNK Lights Up London

As AFROPUNK prepares for its Brooklyn leg, we review the impact it made in London

8th Aug 2017

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AFROPUNK LDN (July 22nd-23rd) saw some of the most diverse talents across the world come together in a delectable celebration of self-expression and artistic integrity. Born out of the desire to express oneself, regardless of race, age, gender, sexuality, the festival brought a wide range of people together amidst a widely divisive political backdrop. Led by acts including the Internet, Thundercat, NAO and Willow Smith, the celebrations over the weekend served as a welcome salute to black heritage, pride, and creativity.

We were invited to Printworks, South London to experience the event over the weekend, and it didn’t disappoint. We arrived at the venue early on Sunday (July 23rd) to find its central hall decked with a market adorned with fine jewellery, fabrics, classic books, and embroidered designs originating from the likes of Kenya and South Africa through to London and Chicago. Many of the wears sold at the market were hand-made and in limited supply, and the colours were bold and vibrant.

Soon the performances started. Eased in with the soothing, electro-soul influenced sounds of DJs such as Hannah Faith, the evening saw the introduction of former BBC Sound of 16 winner; NAO. Performing a range of tracks from her debut album ‘For All We Know’, NAO delivered an incredible performance. For many of her fans, it was the first time they had seen her perform live - and they were mesmerised by her energy and vocal quality. She demonstrated a remarkable level of charisma, vocal talent and musical composure as she flittered between falsetto riffs and bass-line hooks.

Following her performance, US based artist Thundercat took the stage. An accomplished guitarist, helot the house rocking in his own typically casual style. He had a righteous habit of belching ‘fuck!’ at the end of each track before unleashing a maniacal laugh upon his adoring crowd. He played a great set of songs from his album ‘Drunk’, and had a great reception from the audience.

Then came Willow Smith, the 16 year old daughter of famous actor Will Smith. Decked out in a pair of cutoff blue trousers, a graphic tee, oversize blue finale and black converse high tops, the artist spent her set resisting existential woe in a Kurt Cobain-esque collection of grunge style tracks. She demonstrated an incredible level of talent and progression. She remixed her smash it ‘Whip My Hair’, and to top it all off, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith just so happened to be in the crowd. To put it lightly, the audience went wild!

All in all, the London leg of the festival was a great success. The next leg (Brooklyn) will see a whole host of heavy hitters including: Kaytranada, Solange, SZA, Anderson .Paak, Soul II Soul, Princess Nokia, Sampha, Sango and more. Find out more here:

See the video-summary of the event here:

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Festivals Alternative Hip Hop