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10 Great Things We Saw At The Afropunk Fest 2013

Photo By Denisse Hernandez
Photo By Denisse Hernandez

For 10 years, Afropunk has brought a mixture of punk attitude and African-American culture to Brooklyn. The 2013 edition of the festival was perhaps the most ambitious yet, expected to draw over 30,000 people to Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry Park for two days of hip-hop, hardcore punk, metal, funk and more. The festival’s eclecticism wasn’t only limited to the the lineup—which included rap luminaries like Chuck D and Questlove, bands like Trash Talk and Pryamids, and emerging hip-hop artists like Danny Brown and Theophilus London—but also to the food, the fashion and the artwork on display. They even had a rock climbing wall. Everywhere you looked, there was something new, surprising and wholly original. To try to keep track of all the cool events and moments of the festival, we went ahead and selected 10 great things we saw at Afropunk this weekend.

10. Jean Grae
Jean Grae’s early afternoon set on Saturday was filled with highlights that were both volatile—Pharoe Monch joining her on stage—and relaxing. With the sun beating down on the crowd, Grae closed out her set with a moving performance of her Cake Or Death stand-out “U And Me And Everyone We Know,” fostering the sense of community that would go on to define the festival all weekend. – Dan Jackson

09. Le1F
With 2012’s Dark York and 2013’s Fly Zone, New York rapper Le1f has carved out a distinct aesthetic centered around bubbling synths, hard-knocking drums and a mumbled, frenzied delivery. Sporting summer ready shades and shorts, Le1f tore through cuts like “Wut” and “Spa Day” with a playful, laid-back charm without sacrificing the intensity of the material. – DJ

Photo By Denisse Hernandez
Photo By Denisse Hernandez

08. Theophilus London
Fresh off a flight from Palm Springs, where he’s been holed up recording his new album Vibes, Theophilus London graced the Afro-Punk stage at the magical twilight hour on Saturday and treated fans to a diverse trip through his many hits. From a remix of Rihanna’s “Jump” to his A$AP Rocky collab “Big Spender” to a few choice cuts from his upcoming album, Theo showcased his versatility to the excited audience. Capping his set off with his new single “Rio,” Theophilus closed his set out by giving fans a glimpse into the Vibes he’s been feeling as of late. – Dan Buyanovsky

Photo By Denisse Hernandez
Photo By Denisse Hernandez

07. Effortless Fashion
One thing that sets Afropunk apart from the litany of other music festivals is its patrons’ effortless and always-impressive style. Where other fests bring out the bros and ravers who do too much to overcompensate with their fashion choices, Afropunk’s guests are made up of those kids in school who dressed five years ahead of everyone else, but weren’t too snobbish about it. From incredible high-tops to rope chains to detailed accessories, everyone at Afropunk celebrates both the Afro and Punk sides of the fest with truly effortless styles. – DB

Photo By Denisse Hernandez
Photo By Denisse Hernandez

06. M.O.P. Doing “Ante Up”
It was apparent that the crowd wasn’t quite sure what to make of Cx KiDtroniK and M.O.P.’s anarchy-filled set: equipment was smashed, lyrics were screamed, a dude in a Spider Man costume played a cymbal the whole time. But when the beat started up for M.O.P.’s ubiquitous 2000 hit “Ante Up,” everyone knew what to do: Go nuts. Watch for yourself here. – DJ

Photo By Denisse Hernandez
Photo By Denisse Hernandez

05. Saul Williams
The crowd was buzzing with rumors that Saturday’s headlining spot—listed in the program as a “surprise guest—would either be a massive act possibly in town for the VMAs (Prince was one rumor) or a local artist making a hometown return (Mos Def was mentioned). Saul Williams, who was on the schedule for earlier in the day, ended up being the final headliner and he delivered a set filled with fiery lyricism and glam-rock grooves. However, the most powerful moments came between songs when Williams used his voice to speak on a range of issues from Trayvon Martin to Stop-and-Frisk to Jay Z and Harry Belafonte. With his willingness to provoke and his commitment to truth, Williams felt like the soul of Afropunk made flesh. – DJ

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