What The AFROPUNK London Lineup Could’ve Looked Like With Better Research
The importance of good research when organizing events with the purpose of uplifting marginalized Black British talent
When the launch of Afropunk’s inaugural London music event was hinted at earlier this year, expectations were very high and rightly so. Over the past few years, the Afropunk Festival brand has seen a wide range of black musicians grace It’s various stages. Eclectic artists from Phony Ppl, to Lenny Kravitz have appeared at the Commodore Barry Park venue, demonstrating the promoter’s aptitude for booking exciting new talent and legacy acts.
Prior to Its cancellation the Afropunk Atlanta festival of 2015 was also expected to be epic, with artists like D’Angelo, Thundercat, and Santigold set to perform. When the London lineup (see image below) was recently announced what we got instead was a “politically black” headliner (M.I.A.) and a selection of music acts (a number of whom are great in their own right) reflecting a lack of research into Britain’s vast Black creative talent pool.
While many casual onlookers might be quick to dismiss the poorly constructed nature of this event, many UK based Black music artists/fans will be all too familiar with this form of industry tomfoolery. We more commonly associate It with our award shows, nationally syndicated radio, and other forms of corporate controlled media outlets (e.g. charts, newspapers, and online magazines). There are understandably many Black British artist’s that don’t seek the validation of these mainstream outlets and are often told to “create their own”. How then do we approach a situation like this that is purported to be “our own”, with a non-black civil rights cause derailing artist taking up (& being paid!) a headliner role?
The consistent narrative being drilled into the masses heads is that Black British artists creating/performing alternative/underrepresented forms of Pop, Hip Hop, Soul, Rock, Jazz, House etc. music are simply not “good enough”, or “viable” enough to showcase their art on high visibility platforms. Having an event that was created (in the US) as an outlet for creatives from a similar struggle, launch itself here and reaffirm those mainstream messages does everyone involved a great disservice.
I’ve put a mock-up flyer (see image above) together for what would make up an ideal 3 day event held at a feasible spot like Finsbury Park. I personally won’t be holding my breath for major alterations made to the current London lineup but here’s to hoping this serves as a precursor for positive change. A huge thanks to the following for contributing names to the extended list (continuously being updated below): Amelia Ideh, Stephanie Philips, Becky Popoola, Nigel Hosten, Ashton James Brown, Steve Owen, Matthew Kinani, Wumi Olaosebikan, Honey Williams, Janice Pepper & Ana Pryor.