The AfroPunk Experience: Live in your truth

IMG_2464Leikeli47 performing at AfroPunk17

This post is long overdue, but it’s better now than never, right?

When it comes to AfroPunk, a few things come to mind:

Eclectic fashion

Black culture

Music

Afros

Natural hair/braids

Unity

Platfroms

Free spirits

Diversity

Punk rockers

& Of course a whole lot of “BK love”

Personally,  after experiencing AfroPunk for myself what comes to mind is love for ALL people. Yes, white supremacists you read correctly, I said all people. So that includes your Negro lovin’ white brethren.

Amidst all the hatred that has occurred and is transpiring, it warmed my heart to see people of different cultures, ages, and various backgrounds congregate together. Events like AfroPunk show that no matter how disparate, inferior or superior, society attempts to make us feel, in the grand scheme of things we’re actually all just human beings.  AfroPunk is more than just a fashion runway for attendees , a concert lineup of dope artists (both mainstream and upcoming) it’s an open forum for individuals to freely be their self in their most truest and purest form. In this space of Afrocentric love and appreciation; people are able to be Black and proud + say it out loud! With no discrimination to any other cultures.

Is it fake of me for initially wanting to see three main performers: The sultry Solange, fearless Willow Smith, and carefree SZA.

Yea, I guess it is a little fake of me for wanting to support only three artists among the array of talented acts. Well guess what AfroPunk organizers caught the drift and I was swindled into paying for a weekend pass. Yup they got me. Oh and By the way, Solange, SZA and Willow you’re welcome.

All in all, the AfroPunk experience is one of the major highlights of summer 2017 and it’s also my first official summer returning home to reclaim my place as a New Yorker after years of traveling to and from Buffalo, residing there for a year as a post-graduate (Phew) that was a mouth full. Let me just say it’s bittersweet readjusting to living in NYC with my parents in my childhood home. any who, that’s another story for a different day.

Back to the main topic, AfroPunk! There isn’t a more satisfying feeling in the world than having the opportunity to wholeheartedly live in an experience you’ve always wanted to do. Most of us (yes, i’m including myself) pile a ton of things on our to-do lists, but never actually live to see the day that particular seeded dream manifests into a living breathing reality.

The feelings of love and good vibes immersed me, almost suffocated me both physically and emotionally. I felt a sense of relief being in a place where people weren’t overtly judging others for their clothes, hairstyle or musical choice. We embraced and celebrated all of our differences and similarities through the love of music.

For those New Yorkers who have not gone to AfroPunk, I say this you should be ashamed of yourself and even if it’s not your thing you shouldn’t knock it before you try it. Check out the line up and give it a shot, you might just discover some new music to add to your playlistI, I know I did. Besides my three must-see artists, I’m now feeling the Afrocentric, feminist vibe of the HWIC Princess Nokia, the fast paced, get-up-outyour-seat hip hop dance music of Leikeli 47 and hardcore, British rapper Little Simz made Nicki Minaj and Remy Martin look like mere nursery rhymes.

Looking back at the AfroPunk Saturday lineup, there was some serious female empowerment vibes.

The most important aspect of AfroPunk is that it’s not a place to proliferate ideologies of sexism, racism, xenophobia and/or cruel intentions. Leave your violence and negativity at the door, as the great, rap trio Migos once said “Yea that way”—> For those of you who don’t know what that means let me clarify: Leave. The. BS. At the door. It’s not welcome in this space.

Self expression comes in multiple forms, love of music, fashion, and artistry. Thank you AfroPunk for allowing us to freely incorporate all three.

And my Amigos here a few fun pictures for you to scroll through. Enjoy!

IMG_2489What can I say, I have a thing for murals.

IMG_2472 .    Little Simz

IMG_2480

“Hoping my 20-somethings don’t end, hoping to keep the rest of my friends” -SZA

 

 

 -S.Yolee

Advertisements

Dear Solange, Thank you.

Confession: I listen to Solange’s 2016 album, “A Seat at the Table” at least once every week or two weeks. If not the album in its entirety, I play a few tracks throughout the day. It’s just that great and I mean it. This album does something to my soul and allows me to be delve into a creative space. When I listen to the album it’s as if the words trapped in mind are easily brought to life with my pen and poured out onto my notepad. “A Seat at the Table” is empowering, thoughtful, thought provoking and magical. 

This album is authentic and unique in its representation of Black Pride and Pro-Blackness. Solange perfectly pieced this incredible album together with soft melodies and harmonies, meaningful lyrics and powerful words from  featured speakers. Her angelic voice filled with soft notes makes it seemingly effortless for it to match  wit the varying genres on her album. The songs on the album range from a classic R&B vibe to groovy 1970s sound to modern hip-hop. The sound and feel of “A Seat at the Table” is as electic and original as Solange’s fashionable ensembles. I have the feeling that unlike numerous other musicians who work tirelessly to acquire mainstream attention end up derailing from their true musical purpose and message, by selling their self short just to appease listeners. I hold the utmost respect for Solange because I don’t think she purposely made any tracks to appease listeners whether they are Solo fans, not fans or first time listeners of her musical craft. Her popular singles, “Don’t touch my hair” and “Cranes in the sky” lyrically and visually depict what she represents. Solange is not afraid  to show her love for her Black culture and share it with the world. “A seat at the Table” is unapologetic and in no way, I absolutely mean no way is Solange trying to measure up to her  Super-Star Big sis, Queen Bey (Beyoncé). So for all of you Bey Hive supporters and nay Sayers, Solange’s 2016 album proves to the universe that she can and has made a name for herself. Her authentic afrocentricism is untouchable✊🏾. Solange is fearless for this album in various unimaginable ways. For so long, I have listened to Solange’s music, admittedly copied a few hair and fashion ideas from her, but all the while I felt as though she hadn’t acquired the fame or acknowledgement she deserved.  Her sound has always been a little different from other artists, having a sort of 1950s-1970s musical influence. She is truly an old soul in a young modern woman’s body. “A Seat at the Table gives me so much hope for the future. In the midst of every financial set back, job loss, social isolation,emotional withdrawal and self-doubt, this album brought me through each day with a smile and optimism.  Solange has earned the recognition she deserves by creating such an authentic and lyrically beautiful album. I have no doubt Solange’s vast fan base and super stardom will reach all time heights. There are thousands of young people who resonate with what she represents, including myself! 

This album will go down in history as a classic. It’s depth and influence surpasses it just being perceived as a great album with songs. It’s a movement.  It allowed listeners to feel, to think, to understand and to learn. Most importantly, it taught us to love our Blackness regardless of societal perpetuating images and messages of Black cultural hatred.  We are stronger and greater than the world wants us to believe. 

   Thank you Solange Knowles for blessing            2016 with “A Seat at the Table”

“Untitled”

(This is a writing piece I composed 9 months ago. Yes, it’s a little dated, but I still felt the need to share my experience of what I saw).

Thursday, January 9th 2014

My visit to the Museum of Modern Arts and Design was something out of the ordinary. I guess it’s due to the fact that I don’t usually choose to visit a Museum as one of my daily activities. The only moments I recall feeling amused by the thought of attending a Museum of any sort was in elementary school and high school. Museums were field trips, which meant: no long school hours, boring teachers, and annoying assignments.

As a NY Native I have never realized how much I can and should take advantage of the numerous free activities and facilities the great big apple has to offer. You would think I’d be knowledgeable, even up to date on all the FREE activities and places.  Unfortunately I’m not.

Well during my winter break, after weeks of lounging around my apartment lazily and inheriting couch potato habits I decided to surf the web for some free activities. I was amazed at the lists of places and days that are free and open to the general public. I browsed web pages excitedly and clicked numerous museum options. Of course I only chose one’s that sparked my interest and the Museum of Modern Arts and Design seemed interesting.

After walking around, going from floor to floor exploring the gallery, I found one particular piece that was disturbing, eerie, strange, frightening, and a little heart stopping. It’s a little unbelievable to even think that one sculpture could conjure so many emotions all at once.

Simonsson’s “Untitled” sculpture had me in awe and I was so curious to find out more.  I carefully analyzed the three white wide- eyed porcelain figures. I silently hoped and thought they would move out of their statuesque pose to ask me why I was staring so hard. This piece was strange but so real!  There were two children, a young boy and girl kneeling with the hands clasped together and a young girl standing before them with a gun behind her back.

It looked as if the children were playing a cruel game of some sort. The two children kneeling before her appeared as if they were begging for their lives. This piece stopped my heart and had me shocked because of how much it resonates with our cruel society. Each and everyday children are bullied, kidnapped, abused, murdered, and raped.  The lack of censorship on social media, vulgar television shows and violent video games are encouraging children to become aggressive.

Simonsson’s “Untitled” piece brought unpleasant images to my mind. I thought of the innocent young children who lost their lives at Sandy hook, mass killing in Columbine, suicide victims, and kids who are bullied and mistreated. Automatically I began seeing the similarities of Rich Tomasello’s “Innocence Lost” exhibit. Although, Tomasello’s work displayed an array (toys, backpacks, and drawings ) of violent influences on children; Simonsson’s  exhibit said it all, in just one sculpture.