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):
Keep your critiques and comments coming in. Your view helps us to see ourselves and continue to expand our platform so we can keep 'on rockin for many more years to come! WE LOVE YOU AFROPUNKS!