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 Simz, The 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.
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)