12 unmissable things to see and do at Afropunk London 2017

Afrop­unk is dif­fer­ent to oth­er UK fes­ti­vals. Its vibe is all about self-expres­sion, inclu­siv­i­ty and friendship.

This week­end Afropunk’s sec­ond UK fes­ti­val takes place at Print­works night­club, London.

The Inter­net, Lianne La Havas, Thun­der­cat, Dan­ny Brown, Corinne Bai­ley Rae, Nao, and Wil­low Smith are just some of the big names appear­ing at what promis­es to be one of the wildest par­ty week­ends this year.

We’ve scoured Afropunk’s line-up and activ­i­ties board and picked out a dozen things you shouldn’t miss while you’re at the festival.

If you’re hav­ing that creep­ing fear of miss­ing out, select­ed tick­ets are still avail­able here. And if you’re not going, Fringe Fre­quen­cy will be there tak­ing pho­tos, soak­ing up the atmos and shar­ing as much as we can via our social feeds, @fringefreq on Twit­ter and Insta­gram.

See a superstar or four: Thundercat, Danny Brown, Corinne Bailey Rae, Willow Smith, and more

Afrop­unk London’s line-up is lit, lit, lit. The two-day fes­ti­val will see a parade of cel­e­brat­ed new­com­ers, fledg­ing tal­ents and sev­er­al glob­al super­stars. On Sat­ur­day, these include The Inter­net, Jme, Thun­der­cat, Dan­ny Brown, Lit­tle SimzThe Heavy, Saul Williams, Soul II Soul founder Jazz­ie B, and the awe­some Corinne Bai­ley Rae. And on Sun­day, Lianne La Havas, Nao, Wil­low Smith, and Petite Noir. Stage times will be post­ed to the Afrop­unk app for iOS and Android.

If you only see one artist, see Little Simz

Lis­ten, if you’re going to Afrop­unk you need to see Lit­tle Simz. This rap­stress from north Lon­don is a force of nature. At Afrop­unk Lon­don 2016, she popped up for an impromp­tu freestyle of ‘Dead Body’ and knocked most of the crowd into the after­life as she did so. Simz’ unshak­able focus, con­sis­tent show­man­ship and her abil­i­ty to spit rhymes at sub-super­son­ic speed are an expe­ri­ence you owe it to your­self to feel first-hand. She’s been shut­ting venues down on both sides of the Atlantic (read about her killer set at Demon Dayz fes­ti­val) since releas­ing her sec­ond stu­dio album, Still­ness in Won­der­land. We’ve no doubt that she’ll slay when she takes the stage at Afrop­unk Lon­don on July 22.

Saturday’s headliner: The Internet

The Inter­net ful­ly embody the spir­it of Afrop­unk. Tena­cious, self-taught and unafraid to break the rules of nor­mal con­ven­tions, this col­lec­tive of mav­er­ick musi­cians from LA have attract­ed a glob­al fol­low­ing for their laid­back, funked out, psy­che­del­ic soul music. 2015’s Ego Death solid­i­fied the group as next-lev­el pio­neers of future funk, and this year mem­bers Syd, Matt Mar­tians, Steve Lacy and Christo­pher Smith have come through with solo albums that delve deep­er into their indi­vid­ual per­son­al­i­ties. Expect a woozy, messy funk freak out.

Sunday’s headliner: Lianne La Havas

Brit and Gram­my Award-nom­i­nat­ed singer Lianne La Havas will close Afropunk’s final day – and we couldn’t be more excit­ed to see her. First cap­tur­ing hearts with her stu­pen­dous debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough?, La Havas’s deft tal­ent for emo­tion­al­ly grip­ping soul and pop has con­tin­ued to shine. This will be her sec­ond appear­ance at Afrop­unk, hav­ing played at the Brook­lyn fes­ti­val in 2014. La Havas recent­ly spoke to Dan Alani on Reprezent Radio about her plans for Afrop­unk. Expect an “inti­mate” per­for­mance of hits (‘Unstop­pable’, ‘What You Don’t Do’), cov­ers and pos­si­bly some new mate­r­i­al, too, from this gui­tar-play­ing bright star.

The rising star you shouldn’t miss: Kojey Radical

MOBO-nom­i­nat­ed Kojey Rad­i­cal is the up-and-com­er you real­ly shouldn’t miss. Kojey’s con­scious words take aim at the hypocrisy of church lead­ers (‘Preach­er Preach­er’) and the chal­lenges faced by young blacks in today’s world (‘Foot­steps’). We were for­tu­nate to see the per­for­mance poet-turned-rap­per at the Jazz Café last autumn, where he – and his many guests – put on a rap­tur­ous show that was dark in spots, but also pumped with hip-shak­ing good­ness. Look out for Kojey’s per­for­mance on Sat­ur­day, July 22.

See more future stars: Liam Bailey, Nadia Rose, Kiah Victoria, Connie Constance, Mahalia

Afrop­unk has a long his­to­ry of nur­tur­ing new tal­ent at its fes­ti­vals world­wide. Its inau­gur­al Lon­don show saw stand­out sets from the Nova Twins, Loyle Carn­er, SZA and Jor­ja Smith. At the fes­ti­val on Sat­ur­day, you can look for­ward to appear­ances by ris­ing UK stars Nadia Rose, Cos­mo Pyke and Liam Bai­ley, plus LA group The Bots and Toronto’s The OBGMs. On Sun­day, the fes­ti­val wel­comes inter­na­tion­al artists, punk diva Sate, R&B singer Kiah Vic­to­ria, and pro­duc­er-singer Black Orchid, as well as home-grown tal­ents Con­nie Con­stance and Mahalia, plus the win­ner of Afrop­unk London’s first Bat­tle of the Bands con­test.

Trust the DJs to keep the party rolling

At last year’s Afrop­unk fes­ti­val, the guest DJs did a phe­nom­e­nal job of keep­ing the crowd sat­is­fied in between set changes for the live acts. Your selec­tors at Print­works on Sat­ur­day will include Soul II Soul founder Jazz­ie B and broad­cast­ing leg­end Don Letts, plus Black­tron­i­ca, Jazz Refreshed, and Fam. Sun­day, mean­while, is an all-female takeover, with sets from Born n Bread, Gal-dem (pic­tured above), Jamz Super­no­va, Han­nah Faith, and Radio 1 pre­sen­ter Clara Amfo.

Have an Afropunk fashion moment

If you’ve ever been to an Erykah Badu, Lau­ryn Hill or Janelle Monáe con­cert, you’ll know that devout fans like to turn out wear­ing eye-catch­ing out­fits inspired by their trend­set­ting idols. At Afrop­unk, you see this devo­tion to fash­ion mul­ti­plied over and over. From tra­di­tion­al pat­terned kan­ga dress­es and head ties to con­tem­po­rary boots, bralets, shirts and shorts that proud­ly car­ry their African her­itage into the 21st cen­tu­ry, no UK fes­ti­val attracts such a vis­i­ble lev­el of BAME fash­ion devo­tees like Afrop­unk. And yet, the come-as-you-are vibe means no one feels left out.

Explore the marketplace and sample something new

Afrop­unk is a treat for music lovers and fash­ion­istas. But it’s also a great place to sam­ple crafts, clothes and body art at the festival’s on-site Spinthrift mar­ket­place. Some 30 venders will bring African and Caribbean fash­ion and food to Print­works, includ­ing cloth­ing mak­ers Con­ti­nent Cloth­ing, Afrode­si­ac World­wide and Alero­Jas­mine, acces­so­ry brands Uptown Yardie and FunkynChunky, and Brix­ton-based cul­tur­al project, United80. See a full list of Afrop­unk mar­ket traders here.

Have a bite of genuine African or Caribbean food

There are lots of places to get authen­tic food from dis­tant cul­tures in Lon­don – if you know where to go. When hunger strikes at Afrop­unk, you can grab a bite from one of sev­er­al food trucks and pop-up restau­rants, main­ly serv­ing gen­uine African and Caribbean food. You can look for­ward to rice and peas (kid­ney beans), bar­be­cue chick­en, grilled fish, and whole­some flavour­ings in every dish. Veg­e­tar­i­an and veg­an options will be avail­able, too. Have a look at some of the food sell­ers here.

Keep an eye out for surprises

Last year, Lit­tle Simz appeared for an impromp­tu cypher over IAmNoBodi’s DJ set, Mav­er­ick Sabre joined Jor­ja Smith on stage (pic­tured above), and Grace Jones brushed hands with dozens of audi­ence mem­bers, while rid­ing on the shoul­ders of her mus­cu­lar go-go dancer. There’s cer­tain to be some unex­pect­ed sur­pris­es at this year’s fes­ti­val, so keep your eyes peeled and avoid max­ing out your phone bat­tery before din­ner time.

Party all day, and carry on into the night

Final­ly, for those who are up for a big all-nighter, Afrop­unk is hold­ing offi­cial after par­ties at Miran­da Bar, Ace Hotel in Shored­itch. Sat­ur­day night’s acts and DJs are Lar­ry B, Mis­cha Mafia, Crack­stevens, Cov­co, and Shy­girl. And Sunday’s are Chloedees, Lady Amz, Lil C, and Shy One. Entry is free for tick­et hold­ers, but space is lim­it­ed to 100 peo­ple, so be quick. Vis­it the Afrop­unk Lon­don site for more infor­ma­tion, and ask about after dark events on the day of your visit.

Select­ed tick­ets for Afrop­unk Lon­don 2017 are still avail­able and can be pur­chased here. And don’t for­get to fol­low us on Twit­ter and Insta­gram for all our Afrop­unk coverage.

Images: all images cour­tesy of Afrop­unk Lon­don PR, except where not­ed; Driely S (main); cour­tesy of Liam Bai­ley, Kiah Vic­to­ria, Nadia Rose, Mahalia; Leave No Trace (Afrop­unk goers); Aaron Lee; Visu­al Mar­vel­ry (Grace Jones)