... the other Black experience

There are the purists who say TO HELL with new music and it's Bad Brains or death! (I mean "death" as in "kill me now", but I guess they'd say the same about DEATH, the 70s punk legends out of Detroit). Then there are those whose daily breath is to discover new music from all walks and all genres. Both music lifestyles are AFROPUNK. Since 2005, The AFROPUNK FEST  has always strived to bring you a weekend of fun, music and most importantly, community. Because the most important part of punk isn't guitar riffs, it's a mass collective belief that "we ARE and will always be" (stick it to the man etc blah blah et al) 
By: Alexandria Gamlin, AFROPUNK Content Editor

We've heard it since AFROPUNK the film was released in 2003-- ALL PUNK! All the time! That was never the intention. AFROPUNK is a mindset (arguably best represented among punks, but now we're defining "what a punk is" which isn't our intention either). The whole AFROPUNK platform is about being accepted and uplifted no matter what your motivation. As people of color, the expectation for us as people in general is narrow. We eat these kinds of foods, we listen to this style of music, we look a particular kind of way, and only understand a few different things about the world. We say HELL NO. Our mindset as afropunks is to defy these labels put on us and to define our individual selves. That's the common thread that connects our community.

In the following weeks since the festival we've heard multiple complaints and pouts from afropunks, old and new, that there wasn't enough punk music at AFROPUNK fest. "What's with all the hip-hop?" "Electro isn't punk" and even the rock didn't rock hard enough for some. While the overwhelming majority of festival goers continue to rave and thank us for the free festival of music, food, local shops, and ogling-of-motorcycles, we felt that it was important to address the naysayers about who we are and what we stand for:

AFROPUNK isn't a punk music festival: We LOVE punk music! But it's ok if we like hip-hop too. We dig folk, blues and rockabilly too. Our name AFROPUNK was born from the film, that examined the lives of black outsiders in the predominately white punk scene. There are black hippies and indies who feel the exact same way these punks did in their respective "scenes". If a hip-hop kid went to a Coldplay show dressed like he normally does, he or she would get the exact same stares from people who feel like "their scene" is being compromised by something they don't recognize. We don't like that, and that's what afropunk is. Our festival is about bringing together like-MINDS, not "like-iPods".

AFROPUNK supports art: Art in general. This is when we tend to lose many of the single-genre purists. But the mindset of an afropunk is about fascination in whatever you like, and a boldness to reject our "place" in a scene, especially if that "place" isn't necessarily where we "belong". So if you're out there figuring out a new sound and it's sounding pretty dope, we'll support it. If you're blending genres and learning xylophone, we support you. Punk culture is about a collective mindset, but punks (historically) are a pretty excluding bunch. We're not punks like that, we're AFROPUNKS and we're not gonna call you a "pissah" because you want to fool around with a synth (we love synth).
AFROPUNK will always support your weirdness: When we hear negative rhetoric, we instinctively take a step back to see what is that we can adjust to get everyone on the same page. But in some matters, we know we have to stick behind our core values, which we know an even larger majority of you appreciate. The bands we work with at AFROPUNK come from a myriad of towns, experiences and sounds. Through our platform, we support bands who may not have a shot in their own towns. Major music labels aside, most of Johnny America barely knows how to respond to alternative/punk music IN GENERAL, let alone a person of color singing it. We have the audience, you want to hear it, so we expose their art. It's a responsibility to the community we've built-- to say to our audience and our bands "yoooo, this is dope." It's our daily work, which we've made our life's work and an obligation to which we joyfully oblige. 
AFROPUNK has grown up: Think of yourself 10 years ago. You probably thought a lot of things that you now know to be wrong. You probably had a lot of friends that you may not recognize anymore. Your hair, clothes, job and attitude are probably all different and that's the way love goes-- and SHOULD go. Our roots are humble; an indie film that was made out of the necessity to tell the story of 4 people that represented millions around the world. It sparked a movement of expression and freedom across race, gender and genres. With the initial boom of the films success, our responsibility changed. We became a forum, and then turned into the platform you see today. We you use your voice, you can often become THE voice, but we never claim to speak for everyone. I guess we just all tend to think alike, for the most part. With the responsibility of a platform comes influence. When you have influence you can make change. This is why other influential brands like Nike, Vitaminwater, Converse, KIND snacks and many others want to be apart of what WE'RE doing. When they say what do you want to be when you grow up, we said change the world-- and that's exactly what we're still striving to do.

AFROPUNK will always love you: When you're an outsider and you're finally accepted it feels awesome. To be understood from people who look like you is like a warm peace that confirms you're not crazy, you're just yourself. If someone feels like that feeling is jeopardized, we understand that it's a natural reaction to lash out. "Don't take away what you gave to me" is the general feeling we understand when we read your comments on facebook and our message boards. We want you to know that even though we've grown and added to our platform, we haven't taken away the punk. We want you all to grow with us and see the potential that we see in our communities. We're going to continue to support bands doing weird things, and highlight weird/cool stuff happening in alternative communities around the world. If you're looking for us to stay stagnate on a single genre, with a single idea--we will disappoint you. But we'll still love you and count you as one of our own.

So just in case you thought we'd lost our way, we want to assure you we're on the right track. And if you're ticked we took the PUNK out of afropunk, we'd like to encourage you to widen your definition of punk AND pay closer attention to what we post:

The following are a selection of rock/punk/rock alternative bands we've covered just in 2012 (more rockin sh!t coming at you soon):


Views: 1821

Tags: afropunk, at, fest, no, punk


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Comment by jessica Care moore on December 30, 2012 at 10:35am
beautifully stated. rock on ya'll.
Comment by The Brutal Gerard on November 16, 2012 at 9:59pm

Shabazz is totally right!!! You should change that by going to the Severed Tether show on black friday at Goose Island Brewery 3535 N. Clark St. in Wrigleyville!!!!! Most of us meet via afropunk's website   \m/

Comment by Hitch on November 10, 2012 at 10:38pm


Comment by Christine on September 24, 2012 at 10:03pm

I was speaking to some older punks at the end of the 2nd day of the festival and they agree that things have changed. The festival seems to be less punk and more of something else. I agree somewhat. Even though I like hip-hop & r&b along with alt, punk, rock, etc. I felt that the rock side should have been displayed more. One of my friend mentioned the Chico punk and Taqwacore (Muslim) punk movements that still represents the "punk" aspect. Maybe AfroPunk should look into these movements to see how they grow and be still able to keep their core audience. Also maybe next year we can combine all three movements and create one big festival!

I don't mind the hip-hop and r&b mixed with alt/punk/rock/electronic etc music because I feel that since these two genres are a big part of the african-american culture it's understandable that some of that music will be displayed and mixed in with alt/punk/rock (ex. Little Jackie, Whole Wheat Bread, Janelle Monae, Gum Class Heros, Tess, etc.). And I really love this type of music. But the main part of the festival should still be alt/punk/rock. I just hope this movement don't end up watered down from it's initial inception and end up like where hip-hop is at currently.

Comment by Lightning Pill on September 24, 2012 at 3:37pm

And two those who say "electro isn't punk" should check out Mindless Self Indulgence, Devo, Suicide and Futurisk.

Comment by Lightning Pill on September 24, 2012 at 3:35pm

To me, Afropunk goes way beyond your average idea of what punk is. I know alternative and punk are two different things, but the similar cause is in giving different kinds of people considered a social threat a save haven and a community of their own. I understand Nikki Lynette's anger into what it has become, but what I appreciate more about Afropunk is the fact that it decided to go farther than just punk rock. It houses the alternative, and gives a home to those who don't fit in with the BET-fueled grind. And personally, that is much more important to me than the creation of any punk scene.

Not to mention that when I discovered Afro-Punk the music seemed more willing to house alternative, punk and various others anyway. So, I can't say I quite see the big deal anyway.

Comment by SlutyShop on September 22, 2012 at 7:30pm
Nikky lynette thank you so much for your text. Whaou.
Comment by AmaniHiME on September 22, 2012 at 2:12am

Okay, if that's really how long it takes to for you to write an actual substantial response.

Comment by AmaniHiME on September 21, 2012 at 6:38pm

Not sure what was 'lol'-worthy about my response, but okay.

@Nikki I loved your blog. fuck, where has it been all my life?

Comment by Nikki Lynette on September 21, 2012 at 4:44pm


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