AfroPunk: Cutting the Color Line by M. Pitter


On the motley shores of Brooklyn, the popular notions of what once constituted black music has dissolved into ambiguity, a mass of genres, including much more than just hip hop and r&b serving as methods for musical expression by artists of African descent. The 8th annual AfroPunk Festival at Commodore Barry Park served boldly as a forum within which the popularly marginalized heterogeneity within the black community bloomed forth via vocal chords, guitar string vibrations, electronic exuberance and synthesized psychedelia. The line-up of musicians considered far too avant-garde for radio play proved the true yet overlooked elasticity of ‘blackness’ in America.

The term AfroPunk designates a scene or an emergence of sorts representing more than merely a genre but an aberrance or a veering away from the stereotypical portrayal of black people and “their” music in the international mainstream media. As many of the featured performers like Toro Y Moi, TV on the Radio, Das Racist and more did not play punk music per se, AfroPunk: this idea, makes manifest the liberation of Afro-Americans from the two-dimensional categorization as people who can only appreciation hip hop and r&b.

The evolution of modern music with that of American culture has rendered genres less color-coded. Spectators of the AfroPunk festival generally reveled in the innovative blurring of the lines between “white music” and “black music”.

These two humans here, , know that while “hip hop sells…AfroPunk erases that line between white and black.” Mainstream Afrocentric media outlets like BET typically turn a blind-eye to AfroPunk because of their lack of faith in its marketability.

knows all too well that “black culture is not just hip hop or what’s on TV” and that AfroPunk “breaks the norm” and fosters an environment that’s “liberating [and] colorful…with no labels attached.”

In a place like Brooklyn or New York City or any metropolis where progressive thought usually takes precedence over dogma, in some circles, “people are different and want to hear different things, while outside of the city, people are listening to the same thing over and over again, music that’s so easily commercialized” according to:

In the opinion of , AfroPunk sheds light on another black experience in that the people attracted to this cultural phenomenon “feel very ‘black’, but at the same time like different music and different styles that aren’t necessarily [stereotypically] African American.”

*But still, “hip hop is becoming different. You can do your own thing: it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wear baggy jeans, thugging it out; you could add [aspects of] rock to hip hop and it’s still very much hip hop.” The evolution of music from one generation to another takes a while to coalesce and normalize.

understands that “the evolution of Man and Music is supposed to happen…[and] that a lot of interesting genres will be born” perhaps catalyzed by this AfroPunk emergence.

In the past, there have been black musicians whose art contributed to the dissolution of white/black distinctions in mainstream music. Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Lenny Kravitz and more. However, they may have passed through time considered merely as anomalies since, still, color is, to a certain degree, attached to musical genres.

In this age, with the spread of AfroPunk to the masses, we may bear witness to a movement further humanizing Afro-Americans, as a population capable as any other, to find solace in types of music completely out of the ambit of what has been prescribed in the popular media.

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