The annual Afropunk music festival returned for its second year in South East London at new venue The Printworks. Previously a newspaper headquarters to The Metro and Evening Standard, The Printworks is now a spacious club boasting several rooms and different stages. Afropunk is renowned for its celebration of black music and culture, as well as the incredible merchandise on sale showcasing African printed patterns and food stands selling Caribbean dishes such as Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas – yum!
With doors to the festival opening at 2pm on Saturday, one of the first acts to perform was Nadia Rose. Cousin to grime artist Stormzy, the 24-year-old rapper has gained popularity in recent years with the help of endorsements from brands such as Adidas, complimenting her swagger and iconic two-bun hairstyle. Her acclaimed success was evident through the crowd cheering along to her songs as she performed an energetic set on the Red Stage. Next to join the stage with a stripy t-shirt and flat-cap, rapper Little Simz rhythmically rapped energy-filled throughout her performance. At the mere age of 23, her honest and poignant lyrics about life experiences resonated with the audience as they thoroughly engaged with the content.
Meanwhile, Corinne Bailey Rae graced the Green Stage, sharing sweet sounds throughout her set. Performing her most well-known song Put Your Records On, the audience sung and swayed along to her serene vibe. Rae also performed other songs off her debut album such as favourite Like a Star and newer material off her latest album The Heart Speaks in Whispers, whilst displaying her musical talents by playing the guitar. Willow Smith also made an appearance!
Back on the Red Stage, Grime artist JME performed a lively set, entering the stage with his headscarf and backpack, prepared to jet off with his sky-high energy and hype the crowd with his booming beats. The Greenwich University Graduate and brother to rapper Skepta performed some of his top tracks including Man Don’t Care and If You Don’t Know. The heavy beats lifted the audience off their feet as they jumped along and waved their hands in the air.
The final act to perform on Saturday was American band The Internet. Lead singer Syd melodiously sung over the smooth and rhythmic instrumentals produced by the band. Performing some of their well-known songs such as Girl and Dontcha from their latest album Ego Death, the group created a fusion of sounds ranging from R&B and hip-hop to electronica. Their blend of musical talents meant to set drew a crowd.
Afropunk is a lively and diverse festival and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul, Grime or even just wanting a safe place to express yourself.
‘AFROPUNK is defining culture by the collective creative actions of the individual and the group. It is a safe place, a blank space to freak out in, to construct a new reality, to live your life as you see fit, while making sense of the world around you.’
Featured image courtesy of Chazz Adnitt