afropunk bk: where legends meet future legends

March 27, 2019
131 Picks

The thing about being a long-running community festival is you get to watch people grow — on both sides of the stage. There are audience members who showed up as kids and now bring theirs. Artists once looking to be put on, who now headlines. The legends are forever mixing with legends in-the-making — real recognizing real, in the timeless manner of progress. Knowing the importance of spotlighting both the stars and the ones who will be, is one of the things you learn from producing the AFROPUNK festival. It’s part of the joy. The looks on people’s faces when they are in the presence of historic greatness (performing historically profound material) are not markedly different from what they look like when discovering a favorite new singer/band/DJ. “Oh, sheeeeeiiit!” When it happens for real, the glow does not fade away quickly, and the stories remain timeless. (“Do you remember when we saw them back in the day?”)

Jill Scott. When Jilly from Philly arrives in BK, the ground will swell with the sound of her powerful and electrifying voice of soul, life and love.

Thandiswa. It does not matter what South Africa’s pre-eminent contemporary vocalist sings. When the mighty King Tha opens her throat, the spirits arrive.

Death Grips. They may not have invented punk rap, but after MC Ride and Zach Hill came along, punk rap has never been the same.

Leikeli47. Behind the Balaklava exists a storytelling lyricist, a Black feminist, a spitter, and an empathetic Brooklynite. Proud to say we knew her when…

Rich Medina. In a city that helped invent the idea of the great party DJ, Rich Medina is one of the GOATs.

J.I.D. The ATL MC whose style was born not in a trap but a dungeon. Representing Spillage Village, Dreamville and the future.

Santigold. When we say that there once was a time when this AFROPUNK shit was just a gleam in her eye, Santi is that “her.”

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Spotify

Tierra Whack. Queen of the weirdos! Name a recent artist who’s brought as much creativity and individuality to the rap game, as Ms. Whack has? We’ll wait.

Kamasi Washington. The Los Angeles saxophonist who helped Kendrick pimp the butterfly has done more to reinvigorate jazz than a million Blue Note samples.

Rico Nasty. Speaking of punk rap… Once simply poppin’, Rico’s become among the DMV’s finest, hottest — and hardest. She runs shit now.