It’s 3 PM and we’re still getting our passes sorted out. Security is dense — they attempted to confiscate my sealed Backwoods, but neglected to check the rest of my bag. Once out on the field, liquor coolers could be found throughout the venue along with your favorite vice. Booths from Black designers and brands filled the landscape in the middle of the two-stage areas. Lines weren’t long, water stations were readily available. This is the first Afropunk Brooklyn since Covid-19, the first since Weed was legalized in New York City, and the first under NYC Mayor Eric Adams.
Bbymutha — dressed in a black skirt with a silver metallic vest, boots to match, and bubblegum pink hair — performed on the Green Stage at 3:45. As if she was harnessing nuclear energy, Bbymutha obliterated the stage, with the protruding bass of “Heavy Metal” amplifying her energy.
Doechii, who hit the Green Stage at 6:45, danced and rapped while holding a burning bunch of sage for a roughly 20-minute set accompanied by her backup dancers. The TDE signee wore a beautiful caramel-colored dress with white arm sleeves. During her set, where she performed songs like “Swamp Bitches” and the euphoric “Bitches Be,” she showcased her versatility as an entertainer as well as a musician.
Before his set at 7:15 PM, a relaxed Isaiah Rashad snapped photos backstage, rolling up weed. His performance was spectacular. While playing “RIP Young,” Isaiah’s voice contained a noticeable rasp as he passionately rapped into the mic.
The two headliners were The Roots, who performed on the Green Stage, and Freddie Gibbs, who was on the Red Stage. Both sets overlapped each other. While the Roots were performing a career-spanning set, Freddie Gibbs performed for a fraction of the time; he was excessively goofy, taking playful shots at Quest. Freddie was rapping rapping, he sounded great but his performance felt like a flash, while the Roots played before Gibbs started and left after his set was complete.
By noon, it started to pour. The rain turned the field into mud, and the wind turned the festival into a chilly endeavor.
At 1 PM, the festival kicked off on the Green Stage with an electric debut from Zhariah, sporting metal and chains and neon pink hair as she screamed and rocked out with a BDSM-bound man who crawled around her feet. Over heavy guitar riffs, she performed her single “Chelsea Hotel,” her falsetto piercing through the loud Amps.
Pink Siifu had the best performance of the weekend. Wearing a leather vest and pants and brown loafers, The Alabama native kept sunglasses, a black cap, and Durag on. Siifu immediately went after the sound engineer who seemingly gave him a hard time over raising his mic volume. “Turn the fucking mic up!” He cursed and yelled, screaming into the mic until his voice was piercing. Performing with his band, Siifu delivered a punk, avant-garde jazz rap fusion, running back and forth on stage without slipping due to the rain. Water cascaded on the speakers as he jumped from speaker to speaker, screaming out tracks like “Deadmeat” and “smd.”
The two big closers, were Burna Boy and Earl Sweatshirt. I stayed for Earl, who was happily sipping on a cocktail during his performance. With Black Noi$e as his DJ, Earl was on the stage for 45 minutes, performing tracks from Some Rap Songs, DORIS, and his latest release Sick! Between songs, Earl made sure to plug in the show’s sponsors: Ruffles — he loves the cheddar and sour cream ones — and L’Oréal (he “loves that shit”).
Earl closed out the weekend turning Afropunk into a church — all of us hung onto every word like sacrilege.
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