Kontrol Recap: Afropunk Festival Atlanta 2017

Afropunk Atlanta 2017
Photo Credit: Ryan Purcell @ryanpurcellphoto

The good times were in abundance at Afropunk Festival Atlanta 2017, which took place October 14-15. The extravagant two-day festival was held in the Mechanicsville neighborhood of Atlanta, south of downtown, down the street from Turner Field. The theme was the “Carnival of Consciousness”, an appropriate concept considering everything that has occurred globally over the past year.

Murals and graffiti, representing the decor, set the tone for the event. The entire crowd was adorned in creative outfits, sporting unique hairstyles and rocking other accessories that aided their attempts at self-expression. The display of individuality and creativity was unimaginable, and overwhelming inspirations.

Afropunk Atlanta 2017
Blake Diiamond @blakediiamond / Photo Credit: Ryan Purcell @ryanpurcellphoto

Afropunk attendees include people from all walks of life, such as students, artists, teachers, activists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. The scene simply shows people coming together despite any differences. Devoid of judgment or ridicule, people who took part in the festival expressed themselves openly and freely. Especially since the environment encourages people to leave society’s standards at the door, and step into a world where themselves are enough. It’s a safe place for celebrating individuality and unity simultaneously.

Afropunk Atlanta 2017
Photo Credit: Ousman Sow @ousmansahko / Brandon Foster @thebrandonfoster

One of the most visual forms of self-expression was fashion. The styling of festival-goers was beyond anything seen at any other festival or ensemble that walked down a runway during fashion week. The idea is not to simply be fashionable but to openly represent yourself as honestly as possible.Think about it, what would you wear if you didn’t have to play by society’s rules? If corporate America allowed people to come as they are, what would the outcome look like? Honesty, freedom of expression, regardless of the circumstances, would possibly look something like Afropunk.

Photo Credit: Sammy Sampson @sammysampsonphotography

It’s not a coincidence that the display of culture and identity shown at Afropunk is the most innovative fashion showcase in the world.Take away the boundaries placed on one’s appearance by society and you’d understand how an accountant can get away with wearing harem pants with a tube top and gladiator sandals. Why not wear a skirt like Jaden Smith or eyeliner like a glam-rocker? If it represents who you are as a person then it’s a welcomed form of expression.

Liberation and self-expression are great and all, but let’s be honest, the musical line-up was the “piece de resistance.” Danny Brown, Flatbush Zombies, Young Feathers, Algiers, Moses Sumney, Sam Dew, Kevin Abstract, Princess Nokia, Jamila Woods, Loaf Muzik, Oshun, Arrow Benjamin and Zuluzuluu all took the stage. This year’s headlining performances were given by Willow Smith, Miguel, and Solange.

Jada Pinkett Smith gave a surprise performance, during her daughter Willow’s set. She performed a song from her days as a member of the early 2000’s band, Wick Wisdom. However, Solange closed out the show with select songs from her critically-acclaimed 2016 album A Seat At the Table. She was accompanied by a live band, dancers, and a spectacular audiovisual display.

AfroPunk Atlanta 2017
Photo Credit: Greg Noire @gregnoire

The festival has evolved into a global celebration of Black art and self-identity. It’s one of the few times in the year, besides, Halloween where people can truly bring out their inner “freak” and “weirdo”; whatever that means. Because forward-thinking people know that those terms are primarily used for what’s misunderstood or unaccepted. Only within recent years have we seen a push to include and normalize those who feel marginalized, and that is what this is all about.

Afropunk brings people into the conversation that were never given a voice to speak. It encourages those who were, and still are, afraid to be themselves. More importantly, it breaks down stereotypes and discredits social norms; and who wouldn’t want to be apart of a “kickass” movement like that? So, will we be seeing you at next year’s Afropunk Atlanta?

Martel Sharpe

Martel is a writer in Atlanta, who's cooler than a polar bear's toenail. He loves reading, writing, and brunch. Reach out to Martel through email, martel.kontrolhomme@gmail.com or follow him on Instagram and Twitter @markopolowe.