Afropunk's Lost It's Magic With Me.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Afropunk’s Lost It’s Magic With Me.

August 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Last month I went into the whole ticket situation with the Afrofuture Music Festival. If you forgot, festival organizers doubled the price of tickets for anyone who wasn’t a person of color. Now, apparently there were some who had no problem with it and bought the higher priced tickets. You know, supporting Afrofuture.

However, once the word got back to one of the performers, Tiny Jag, all hell broke loose. In short, Jag pulled out, Afrofuture adjusted its ticket prices to appear “fair” and Jag was dropped from a co-operating Black music festival. All of this brings me to Afropunk and recent feelings towards the festival.

The Original Allure of Afropunk

When I was in high school, I mainly listened to southern hip hop and metal. Three 6 Mafia and Slayer were the main things in my mp3 player. There weren’t many others who enjoyed rock music in general, the ones I hung out with also happened to be in my art class or skipped class to sit in our favorite teacher’s classroom. I liked other artists but very few excited me like those two groups.

My school really liked southern hip hop artists—this was early 2000s Birmingham, so of course—so there was no problem fitting in or finding someone to discuss albums with. That is unless I wanted to discuss my love of Slayer, Body Count or Bad Brains. Popular rock? Sure, a few people discussed it. When I graduated, I would hang out in the library and rent DVDs. It was my downtime haunt after classes in college and during breaks.

This is when I ran into the documentary Afro-Punk by James Spooner. I’m big on documentaries and music documentaries are among my favorites. I popped it into my PlayStation 2 and my eyes were opened to other bands, artists and a Black fanbase that loved both metal and punk music.

It also showed the lifestyle of Black folks in the punk scene and how the internet served to bring fans together since we’re often isolated in what we like. You can live in the same neighborhood as two other people who love the same kind of bands and not know it because most of the neighborhood loves hip hop, blues, soul and R&B.

Sure, you like those things two but variety is the flavor of life.

The Event and How It Changed

A few years after Afro-Punk came out, the fan base got larger and more unified and a festival was started around it. When I heard about the festival it was something I wanted to attend, obviously.

Just the idea of a festival where it mostly people who resembled me and loved the same music I enjoyed? How could I pass that up? New York was outside of my travel plans but if there were ever spinoff festivals further south, I would be there. At least that is what I believed at the time.

Following Afropunk over the years from when it started in 2006 to now, you see how it changed with more exposure. That leads to a being able to draw more money and a wider variety of bands and artists. As a fan you’re discovering these new bands and running into some cool new music but you’re wondering “Where’s the punk?”

“Punk is a way of life. Ideals. An approach to society and politics. Culture. Fashion. Music. It’s still there.” Only Afropunk comes off as more mainstream than it started. And that makes sense. It wasn’t going to stay the same forever and it would only grow. Not only that but the event still gives you cool music and the fashion but now it seems like it’s gotten away from what brought it to the dance.

One of the reasons for mentioning Afrofuture Music Festival was about white concertgoers coming into Black concert spaces. The first few years it happens, there is really nothing of note. It’s white people at a mostly Black festival. Nothing big. These festivals often allow us to wear our culture out there without having to worry about if it’s within corporate attire or in uniform, it’s less restrictive. White people that and start doing the same—only it’s like they’re mimicking the Black concert goers.

This year, Afropunk will be in Atlanta, right next door to Birmingham, the tickets are a good price, and I’m actually indifferent about going. On one hand it’s an event I’ve always wanted to attend since I was 21 and heard of the first one. Now, 13 years later and I’m like “Meh, if I go I go, if I don’t I don’t.”

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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