- Ashleigh Atwell For the AJC
The much-anticipated Afropunk Fest will descend upon Atlanta this weekend.
At the festival, taking place Saturday and Sunday at art space 787 Windsor, there will be a few familiar faces including Solange, Miguel and Willow Smith. Since the fest’s start in Brooklyn in 2005, it’s drawn an eclectic group of primarily Black music fans that embody Afropunk’s philosophy: “punk principles of DIY aesthetics, radical thought, and social non-conformity.”
Celebrating only its second year in Atlanta, the first planned festival in 2015 was rained out, the Afropunk is sure to draw thousands for the big names mentioned above. However, the true underground music fans also have a few underdogs that are worth watching.
Here are our picks for underrated acts you should see if you’re attending this weekend’s Afropunk:
5:45-6:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14
If you've been on the internet in the past week, you might have seen a man, who had been accused of making racist statements, get doused in soup as he was thrown off a train traveling through Brooklyn. The woman that threw soup was later identified as rapper Princess Nokia. That same rebellious spirit can be found in her music. While she might not be a household name quite yet, her face and music have been in high places.
The rapper has modeled for prominent brands like Adidas and Calvin Klein. Her music has been the soundtrack for fashion shows curated by the likes of Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang. Still, the Brooklyn native hasn't lost her flavor. Her latest mixtape, “1992,” was released in September. After a series of name changes and musical experimenting, she seems to have found her sound. The proud Afro-Latina explores a variety of themes including being a proud of form of womanhood (Tomboy) and spirituality (Brujas).
4:15-4:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15
Although Afropunk Fest has become a gathering of sorts for carefree Black people, it started out as a movement for Black people that felt alienated by the punk scene. Some may wonder if Afropunk Fest is in touch with those punk roots but Bloodplums' music should remove any doubt. Their sound is reminiscent of the heyday of punk music with a little grunge influence. According to their website, the group formed "as a joke." The Atlanta-based band released their album, “Nervous Breakthrough,” in 2015.
5:15-5:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15,
The duo formed by NYU students Thandiwe and Niambi Sala, is ushering in the new generation of neo-soul. Named after a West African goddess, their fashion often includes African-inspired prints, dashikis and face paint. Their lyricism seamlessly weaves racism and other social justice issues into their music. They sing, the rap and they teach, welcoming comparisons to Neo-Soul trailblazers Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. Their politics are in your face. Rather than a well-placed lyric or symbolic object in a video, they take the direct approach. Their video for “#” includes them cursing out kidnappers clad in pig masks and a burning American flag.
While their consciousness is clearly important, they also sing about ordinary problems. Their latest single, "Graduate," is an anthem for recent grads who want "17,000 hours of sleep" and know Sallie Mae is lurking around the corner.
8:10-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14
If you couldn't tell from their name, Flatbush Zombies hails from New York, Brooklyn to be exact. Their music listens like trap but to narrow them down to that one genre is an injustice. There's a slight psychedelic vibe which could be attributed to the shrooms and acid two of the members admitted to ingesting during a Rolling Stones interview.
Their first full album, “3001: A Laced Odyssey,” was released in March 2016 to high praise from critics. Chart credits include a number one spot on the iTunes album charts and No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.
1:30-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14
Being a black rock group is unique. An all-woman black punk rock group is unheard of and that's something the quartet wants to change. In a Buzzfeed interview, they lamented that Black people created rock ‘n’ roll but are rarely represented. "In these bands you see back in the day, you see white men," said drummer Mo Drumma. "We're like the outsider in the genre we created," continued lead guitarist and singer Guitar Gabby. They only have a couple of songs online, "Lost Ones" and "Die Today" but they are worth a listen. Additionally, the band posted a Gofundme for their first tour.
AFROPUNK Presents Carnival of Consciousness
787 Windsor St. SW, Atlanta
Ticket price: $90.00