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What Went Down At This Year’s Afropunk London 2017

0 Culture / Music

PMB had the opportunity to attend Afropunk’s second year in London and it’s safe to say that Afropunk is not your average festival. Sure it has the typical festival aspects such as food trucks, bars and face painting stalls but the crowd along with the carefree atmosphere was enough to put the artsy festival in its own lane.

At the centre of the dark indoor setting of Printworks London was the reason as to why festivals like Afropunk continue to stand out. Not just because of the diverse lineup, but the encouragement of black individuality with all its unique quirks. From bold traditional African prints to jazzy colours and liberating hairstyles, Afropunk created a safe space to not only be yourself but embrace it in an environment where music and creativity are the unifying factors.

With that being said, let’s get into the music!

While all of the many performances had people crying, listening, laughing, dancing and just simply loving life, here’s a breakdown of some of PMB’s favourites:

Nadia Rose

For someone who was very nervous to perform at her very first Afropunk show, Nadia Rose killed it. I’m embarrassed to even mention that I have only started listening to her music recently. I just never took the time to, but now I can admit that I have truly been missing out. Not only did she have the crowd hyped for the entire show but she definitely knew how to turn up on stage. Starting her set off with an impressive beat boxing showdown with her DJ, Bamz, I felt like I was watching a one woman Hip Hop cypher. Nadia proved to us what we already knew about her lyrical ability but it was her versatile flow that took the spotlight against the beat boxing melody. Switching it up and adapting it to each beat given, Nadia continued to show off her ability on each beat and each track. In the midst of all this, the rapper tricked the crowd into thinking her set was over after only 15 minutes of performing before returning and diving straight into Skwod. Nice one Nadia.

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JME

Appearing on stage wearing a T-Shirt with his album cover Integrity on it, JME shook the stage up. His consistent hype energy was mirrored into the crowd. Everyone was going crazy as each word, beat and change in flow were projected. Even though we were all packed tight like a bunch of sardines at this point, I still found myself reflecting on what he was saying. However, as soon as Man Don’t Care came on and the melody seeped through the speakers, the crowd went insane. Mosh pits were formed, bodies were squashed and everyone was pretty much spitting bars like they were the best grime artist in their area.

The Internet

I have to admit when I first started listening to The Internet, I never paid much attention to the rest of the band. I was always too distracted by Syd’s soft smooth vocals. At one point, I just wanted her to go solo. However, when I listened to their last album, Ego Death, that opinion got shut down quickly. Each member really brought something to the album, to the point where even if I wanted to, I couldn’t ignore their vocal and instrumental ability. Seeing this beauty of an artwork reflected live at Afropunk, completely intensified my feelings for the album. Of course, we all expected Syd to take centre stage, it’s a mandatory band thing, but during their performance, it didn’t feel like it. Yes, she did kick off the show with Special Affair, took us back with their classic hit Dontcha and had us all singing along to Girl but each band member played just as an important part as she did. Being in such a neo jazzy soul atmosphere where the instruments were just as alive as Syd’s vocals was pretty nice ending to the eventful night.

Mahalia

Mahalia’s intimate performance on the Red stage at Afropunk was made for pure listening pleasure. Accompanied by her trusty guitar, a piano and a dope bass player, Mahalia took the audience on a journey and it was a personal one for sure. Mahalia switched between singing and playing the piano, to stripping it all back and picking up her guitar for an acoustic performance, and it was all done seamlessly. Mahalia’s vocal tone is sweet and strong yet still so very innocent, but she still managed to commend the stage and captivate the audience. The highlight of her set would have to be the rendition of her new single Sober. The single has this Hip-Hop/soul vibe that perfectly suits Mahalia’s tone. She is certainly one to watch over the next year as Mahalia is on the rise and her talent is undeniable.

NAO

I have been a huge admirer of NAO since her feature on Mura Masa’s Firefly. NAO’s shimmering jazz inspired vocals are so unique, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone like her. Her debut album For All We Know was arguably one of the best albums to be released from a U.K artist in 2016. Sadly, I’ve never had the chance to hear her live, but thankfully Afropunk Festival gave me an experience I will never forget.

The beauty of theatrics and introductions has become a lost art amongst artists nowadays, however, NAO chose to make an entrance and produce an overall performance that would leave an imprint on your mind for the foreseeable. She was breathtaking, making the stage her own with every single song. It was electric, with her vocals making enough waves to reach the audience in the 1000 plus capacity hall. NAO’s vocal ability was amazing to behold, but her incredible band also stole the show, creating this soulful vibe that had you lost in the music. NAO quite frankly tore the stage up and I think it’s safe to say I’ll be the first to book tickets for NAO’s next live performance.

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Words by Jennifer

Photography by @Daniel

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