In the 12 years since it began as a free music and arts festival in Brooklyn, Afropunk Fest has grown into a one-stop-shop for top Black musicians and artists who push traditional boundaries. The roster this past weekend (August 26 and 27) in Brookyn’s Commodore Barry Park included Solange, SZA, Anderson Paak, Sampha, Thundercat, Son Little, Gary Clarke Jr., Unlocking the Truth and King. Legendary London band Soul II Soul and Oakland’s Raphael Saadiq also graced the stage.
As it has in previous years, the festival annoyed purists who argued that there was very little “punk” about an event with five satellites, $30 T-shirts, breathless mainstream media coverage and corporate sponsors. On social media, one critic derisively called it “Cochella for the shea butter set.” Still, as photographer Kadeem Johnson proves in these exclusive images, Afropunk, Brooklyn was still a magnet for real joy, love and soul among cool kids of color. See for yourself.