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. 

Kadeem Johnson is a New York based lifestyle and travel photographer. He’s the curator of the upcoming photo book titled “Us.” Follow Johnson on Instagram at kjohn_lasoul.

 

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    Laugh therapy at Afropunk Fest, Brooklyn, which took place on Saturday, August 26 and Sunday, August 27, 2017, in Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, New York. Performers included Solange, SZA, Soul II Soul, Sampha, Raphael Saadiq, King and Willow Smith. Photo: Kadeem Johnson

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    Beads and braids swing at Afropunk Fest, Brooklyn. Photo: Kadeem Johnson

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    : Kadeem Johnson

    All smiles at Afropunk Fest, Brooklyn. Photo: Kadeem Johnson

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    Moving the crowd at Afropunk Fest, Brooklyn. Photo: Kadeem Johnson

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    Two kings at Afropunk Fest, Brooklyn. Photo: Kadeem Johnson

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    Cuddle time at Afropunk Fest, Brooklyn. Photo: Kadeem Johnson

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    Two-stepping at Afropunk Fest, Brooklyn. Photo: Kadeem Johnson