The Roots, Burna Boy and Doechi highlight Brooklyn’s Afropunk Festival

After a nearly three-year hiatus, this past weekend the Afropunk festival returned to the borough where it was born: Brooklyn, New York’s Commodore Barry Park. Anchored by its headliners – Philadelphia’s The Roots and Nigerian superstar singer Burna Boy (pictured above) – the two-day gathering featured its usual wide but Afrocentric range of genres, from alternative rap artists like Doechii and Tierra Whack to the top to Afrobeats star Adekunle Gold, there was something for just about everyone, and the event as a whole struck an inspiring balance between social awareness and joie de vivre. The festival site has been curated with African and Caribbean food vendors, black beauty brands and a plethora of photo installations.

Afropunk was formed in 2005 and has since spread to Miami, Atlanta, London and South Africa.

The first day was packed with a mix of rising stars and household names. Doechii and Talia Goddess set the tone with energetic sets. Doechii took inspiration from one of her musical influences – Outkast – and interpolated the instrumental of her early ’00s single “The Way You Move” into her burgeoning hit “Persuasive,” which features SZA. Talia brought her signature alt-R&B and Caribbean punk vibe. Isaiah Rashad and Freddie Gibbs continued the day with strong performances and the Roots ended the night with an electrifying mashup of their hits, featuring outstanding solos from drummer/leader Questlove and drummer/MPC musician Stro Elliot.



Afropunk has long been produced by Brooklyn natives, and they have always used the platform to promote artists within their own community. Local native Talia Goddess said of her set, “Some of my favorite artists performed here when they were young, I’m on the right track.” This opinion is echoed by other artists like Brooklyn-based R&B singer Alex Mali and NYC nightlife DJ Moresoupplease. While preparing for his performance, MoresoupPlease said: “It’s a full circle moment. I shot here, DJing now and being invited seven years later is a big deal.”

While the weather was temperate on Saturday as it rained for most of day two, fans and performers kept the spirits up even as the skies opened. Highlights included a lively set from Nigerian singer Adekunle Gold, and Burna Boy ended the night with a powerful string of hits, including his latest single ‘Last Last’, which had fans singing along word for word – and in the spirit of Afropunk , which overcomes all language barriers.


Adekunle Gold The Roots, Burna Boy and Doechi highlight Brooklyn’s Afropunk Festival

Charles Jones

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