what. a. weekend.
the folks over at afropunk must’ve felt my sideeyes because this weekend was more than i ever imagined! here’s the recap!
i caught the tail end of her set, but the two songs i caught, i looooved. kandace has the husky voice i love so much and the vibes of her music are super soothing. i’ll for sure be checking for her. if you’re free tonight, she’ll be performing at brooklyn bowl’s weekly school night. rsvp here. i’m currently obsessed with her song “meet me in the sky“.
denitia and sene
i’ve seen this duo a jillion times. still love their music and it still feels timeless. they have really great stage presence and if you’re not careful, denitia will hit you with the badu eyes. if you haven’t already, cop their first ep “his and hers“.
blaqstarr + dj smallwood
i think everyone that attended afropunk this year will tell you how epic the red bull tent was. i planned on just chilling all weekend, but the djs both days had other ideas. blaqstarr and smallwood had me sweating out my entire existence. a bunch of baltimore club music (basically the only thing philly folks play at parties) and amazing mashups made up most of their set. i will be openly stalking every party these two play at. i will be also sending them my hospital bill since i broke my hip scrubbing the ground.
i’ve been known to blast country music in my lifetime, so i went to check out valerie june. after her set, i realized that i a) like pop-country music and b) am a true yankee. i couldn’t get down with the get down, but she was very warm onstage and made you feel like you were just hanging out on your bestie’s porch drinking moonshine and shucking peas while she serenaded you. she also has the most interesting speaking voice of all time.
ok…like…ummm…wow…yeah…alice is just…alice smith is a power.house (with an amazing booty). there are people that can sang, but it’s something else when you’re a powerhouse. this is what a powerhouse sounds like. it’s as if the songs just take over alice and she snaps back to normal once it ends. she is easily one of the most electric performers i’ve ever seen. she has a very distinct and powerful voice, but when she speaks, it’s all funtime dc bird business as usual. i’ve been #teamalicesmith since her first album and i see no chances of jumping ship. if you haven’t hopped on the bandwagon, whachoo waitin’ for boo?
lianne la havas
my obsession with lianne is well documented here on the site.. she had her first show in nyc in march 2012 and i had already memorized all of her songs just from watching vids on youtube nonstop. she is literally the wind beneath my wings. i was stoked that she performed some of my favorites and even played some newness. if the album sounds anything like the new jams from saturday, this jawn may top her debut album. sophomore slump, who??
so liiiiiike, cat and stas put on the epicness that is black weirdo on friday and then turn around and bless the borough even further with their dj set at the red bull tent. from moruf to missy, my boos had the crowd ro-cking-uh! if you missed it, boooooo to your life, however, you can catch stas spinning monthly at friends and lovers alongside mursi layne. be sure to keep it locked to my twitter page @so14below for the next date!
princess nokia…wavy space…whatever name you decide to call her, she’s everything! i’ve been into princess nokia for a while now and she doesn’t disappoint live. i arrived a bit late to her set, but she was performing “corazon en africa” which i told you guys about back in may. her energy was beyond, she dropped some serious african diaspora knowledge, and you can tell that she was just having a blast. this lady is going places!
there are certain crews in nyc that i love and house of ladosha is one of them. besides being all around cool people, they are a collective of some of the most talented beings on this planet. juliana’s dj set at afro punk was just….BEATZ! i was honestly in a trance and couldn’t stop myself from dancing. on top of being crazy on the decks, juliana is a total f*ckin’ babe. i was so excited to see her walk dkny earlier this year. any party where she’s spinning, you just might wanna go, if you really love yourself.
you know it’s gonna be a good performance when the artist is testing the mic doing their best gospel runs. i’m all for 80s synth tracks and some falsetto, so gordon is right up my alley. i bopped his entire set without one break. outside of being a great singer, he was super charismatic onstage. i will def make sure i’m at his next performance. check his sounds here.
we all know and love zoe kravitz. besides being black excellence royalty, she seems like the kind of girl you want around all of the time. i heard about her new band a few months ago and checked out their ep. i liked the song “jimmy franco”, that had a cute vid featuring a$ap rocky, but i couldn’t really dig the ep like i wanted to. welp, i go to afropunk and lolawolf’s live performance has me hooked. the crowd was oddly acting funnystyle (everyone had their ‘im cool’ meters on max) and zoe wasn’t having it. i died laughing when she said “a festival full of black people and nobody is dancing?!” that was quote of the weekend for sure! to give you a point of reference, lolawolf has the same vibe as j*davey and zoe has all of that lady-badass-sexxxy ooze we love from jack. however, she is truly her own girl and it really shows in her stage presence. her voice sounds light years better live than on the recorded tracks, so i’m crossing my fingers for a live ep or something to drop. there were some supa-dope songs in the set that i can’t seem to track down online, but that just means i have to be at every show until their album drops. you may wanna be my date.
mike q is one of my fave djs. he’s on my beloved fade 2 mind level and he just knows how to rock a crowd. he brought the qween beat family along and they were life! i’ve been immersed in ball culture since high school, so i was essentially near tears their entire set. homage was paid to the black men that created this niche for anyone that for some silly reason thought that voguing came from madonna. the dancers gave it their all and it was 10s across the board. you can hear their tracks and practice your dips riiiiight here.
i’m one of sza’s day ones, so it was really exciting to see her at afropunk this year. i’m still confused about why she won’t wear anything but pajamas onstage, but i guess when your voice is that beautiful, who needs outside clothes, right? she started the set with “country”, which is one of my faves from her first ep, so i ascended to heaven pretty early on in the show. she also did “ice moon” from “s” that i love. the rest of the set was from her newest ep. i didn’t really bond with “z”, but the rest of the crowd knew every word and was nearly drowning her out, which had to feel amazing to her! i’m not sure if it was the soundtech at afropunk or not, but the mix of the track and the live band didn’t gel together well at all. i would love to see sza again with just the band and someone doing the synths. it would make for a cleaner sound and a better backdrop for the flawless voice of hers.
meshell is legend. pure and simple. i have loved her since her first album and she is just with-out-flaw. she was the only person starting her set at the exact time as stated and she jammed those entire 43 minutes. her speaking voice is basically the most euphoria-inducing thing ever, so i was beyond blissed out. with an artist that doesn’t have much radio play, but has an extensive catalogue, you never know what they will play. she ended her set with a jam from the album “comfort woman” (the album that got me through freshman year of college) and “outside your door”, so i was a puddle of tears by 7:43pm when she left the stage. since it’s on my mind, i’m going to do a “best album you’ve never heard” on meshell next week. check back next weeeeeek!
i’m trying not to be ungrateful, but this is the long and short of it. d’s set was supposed to be over at 9:30pm. he came onstage at 9:40pm. he performed for 45 minutes. he only did new material and covers. the crowd left under extreme duress. i’m still in a glass cafe of emotion over it. please be a dear and don’t bring it up around me.
i had a blast at afropunk fest this year. it was so much fun that i didn’t even throw up from all of the afro-tumblr costumes littering the park. i hope that it continues to go onward and upward in the upcoming years. there are few things more amazing than a sea of black people luxuriating in our beauty, talent, and legacy. we made our ancestors proud this weekend y’all. to the brotha that did the amazing guitar solo of “the negro national anthem”, thank you for reminding us of who we are and how hard we rock!!!!!