WPGM Previews: AFROPUNK London 2017

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AFROPUNK returns to London on the 22nd and 23rd of July 2017 to showcase and celebrate the very best in alternative black culture. If you are looking for a weekend that is all about diversity, inclusivity and cracking music across a wide variety of musical genres then this one is definitely for you.

A little bit about AFROPUNK: hailing originally from America, the AFROPUNK movement is now hitting cities across the world helping to recognise and honour the influence of blackness in alternative and punk culture. AFROPUNK was born from a desire to provide black people with a sense of community, and has drawn comparisons with the early hip-hop movement of the 1980s.

The festival’s London debut in 2016 took place at the city’s iconic Alexandra Palace and attracted some of the most influential black artists of our time including Grace Jones, Laura Mvula and Young Fathers.

For its returning year, AFROPUNK London 2017 will take place at the famous Printworks, the former printing press that once churned out the Metro and Evening Standard newspapers. Year two and the 2017 line-up is just as strong with headliners including:

Thundercat – Bassist/songwriter/vocalist Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat hails from a traditional jazz background but has turned the genre on its head with his experimental sensibilities. His father, Ronald Bruner, Sr., is an internationally renowned jazz drummer who played with the likes of Temptations, Diana Ross, Gary Bartz and Gladys Knight.

Thundercat has worked with a number of top class artists including Flying Lotus, Erykah Badu, and Stanley Clarke, as well as more recent collaborations with Wiz Khalifa and Earl Sweatshirt.

In 2013, Thundercat teamed up with executive producer Flying Lotus again to produce his second album, Apocalypse, which is released via the Brainfeeder imprint this July. The album, which has been featured heavily on BBC Radio 6 Music melds pop, funk, electronica and prog rock to create something truly unique, personal and enchanting. Thundercat hits AFROPUNK festival as part of his huge world-wide tour. If you haven’t seen him live yet then this is a must.

Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas is a London-born British singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with a handful of accolades under her belt despite only releasing her first album Is Your Love Big Enough in 2012. In fact this debut earned her a nomination for the BBC’s Sound of 2012 poll as well as awards for the iTunes Album of The Year 2012.

Her second album, Blood, was released on 31 July 2015 and was followed by a sell-out UK and European tour. Since 2015 La Havas has been working on some exciting collaborations as well as writing new music. Earlier this year she was nominated for a 2017 Brit Awards for British Female Solo Artist.

She has recently released a Blood Remixes album, which gives La Havas’s haunting voice a techno-dance makeover. Join her at AFROPUNK for some full-on pumping rhythms that are sure to get you all fired up.

Willow Smith – You may know Willow Smith as the daughter of sunshine rapper and all round nice guy, Will Smith. However Willow is definitely a star in her own right and has already carved out a very impressive career both as an actress and musician.

She is certainly going to make waves at AFROPUNK with her Macey Greyesque vocals that resonate with more maturity and clarity than her tender 17 years suggest. Willow released her debut album, ARDIPITHECUS on December 11, 2015.

Three names, three very different sounds over one, not to be missed, weekend. That’s just for starters, the line-up also includes NAO, Danny Brown, JME, Little Simz, and Corinne Bailey Rae, among others. Check out the AFROPUNK festival website for the full line-up that has a little something for everyone, whatever your musical penchant.

But of course AFROPUNK isn’t just about the music, it is also very much a celebration of culture. Alongside great talent then you will also get to meet some of the key organisations and communities lighting the way for the African diaspora in the arts.

One such organisation is gal-dem, a UK-based community working to readdress the balance of diversity in mainstream media. Check out their website for more information and how you can get involved.

Jumping back to the music for a brief moment, don’t forget to check out the Battle of the Bands competition, which is still open to entries. What an opportunity to support and share the wealth of talent emerging from the black British community and of course listen to some great new sounds.

For more information about AFROPUNK and to get your tickets before they sell out, visit the AFROPUNK London website here.

Afropunk London
Words by Leander Hobbs // Photo Credit: TimeOut London

Leander Hobbs

Writer, musician and artist working in and around the Bristol area. Leander cut her teeth at Making Music, Disco International and Live magazines before working with several London studios whilst pursuing her own creative projects. She is a regular contributor to local and national music titles as well as a familiar face on the festival scene. Leander has even run her own festival accommodation company:"mainly to get free tickets" . If she isn't listening to, performing, or writing about music Leander loves to travel. In 2017, she will walk 160 miles across the Great Wall of China for charity.

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