Afropunk: What Hip-Hop Used To Be…And Will Always Be


Creativity perused through every nook and cranny of Commodore Battery Park on August 25 and 26, 2012. Innumerable shapes, shades, sounds, and flavors congregated at the Brooklyn playground for the Afropunk Festival 2012.

After the Afropunk cancellation of 2011, due to Hurricane Irene, the followers of the alternative music movement have anxiously awaited the return of the celebration.

None were disappointed with a lineup that included Erykah Badu and The Cannabinoids, Janelle Monae, TV On The Radio, Cerebral Ballzy, Toro Y Moi, Alice Smith, Reggie Watts, Gym Class Heroes, Das Racist, Spank Rock, and numerous others.

Believe it or not, it was so Hip-Hop.

Hardcore punk rockers Cerebal Ballsy performed Saturday with a ferocity that commanded the seemingly peaceful crowd into a mosh pit. Later in the evening, the atmosphere switched into a groovy hipster paradise for all to enjoy as Erykah Badu jammed. The next day, Janelle Monae put on a performance with enough energy to power Manhattan. The performers were awesome – all of them – but they were merely a reflection of the movement known as Afropunk and the people of it.

The crowd was multi-everything – multi-cultural, multi-colored, multi-faceted, and multi-fashioned.

I’ve been a lightweight community member of Afropunk, following the movement for many years. As a lover of all music, I was intrigued how it allowed me to find music particularly by African Americans that is overlooked by every mainstream outlet, including Black Entertainment Television. I was initially brought over after “discovering” an indie rock group there, but it quickly opened up an entire world to me, one that was hidden underground like the Morlocks. Sound familiar?

Hip-Hop, too, started out as an underground rebellious movement and a response to a lack of opportunity from the mainstream. Hip-Hop was long ignored until it continuously refused to accept the doors that were continuously shut. Eventually, those very doors were kicked in, even though it wasn’t really wanted. Change was forced upon the industry. Afropunk is doing that right now and it feels, looks and sounds so lovely, even when its ugly, gritty, and unwanted. Hip-Hop cannot let outside forces to define it, and those with conviction need to stay the course – those like Afropunk co-founder, Matthew Morgan.

Describing Afropunk is challenging, and certainly, the written word ultimately does it no justice. Below, you will find a number of images and videos that encapsulate what when down during an epic – and free – weekend in Brooklyn:

AFROPUNK FESTIVAL 2012 – Pictures by Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur’s iPhone

Janelle Monae
Erykah Badu
Cerebral Ballzy’s Honor Titus
Mos Def a.k.a. Yasiin Bey
Alice Smith and Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur (Photo: Terrance Jennings)
Janelle Monae
Spank Rock
BMX Bikers at Afropunk

Afropunk 2012 Videos:

Erykah Badu

Janelle Monae as Introduced by Pharrell

Janelle Monae’s Ode to Michael Jackson

Erykah Badu and Yasiin Bey

Cerebral Ballzy

Reggie Watts

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