AFROPUNK made its grand return in Atlanta last month (Sept. 24-25) with exciting performances from Hip-Hop, R&B, and punk music acts. This year, the festival decided to brace the pandemic with extra safety measures for a life event.
“We didn’t cancel because we have guidelines to keep attendees, talent, and staff safe. This is our first year back and the show is a scaled-down version of our original festival, and the lower number is a direct response to COVID,” a festival representative said to VIBE in a previous report. “We made the footprint smaller to keep people safe, and it’s completely outdoors. With Target being our partner for the third year, we are excited and hopeful to welcome everyone back in a meaningful way.”
The colorful lineup featured a wide range of rising and established acts across multiple genres including Serpentwithfeet, Tkay Maidza, Lesibu Grand, Benji., Hollow Sinatra, and more. AFROPUNK Atlanta was headlined by Smino on day one and Wale on day two. DJ KP The Great brought out Ceelo Green, T.I., his son Domani, J.I.D., and Earthgang, celebrating Atlanta-based artists and music. Thousands of people gathered in person while millions watched the Twitch live stream as each artist took the stage.
Below is a recap of some of the most exciting moments from the 2021 AFROPUNK Atlanta Festival:
Smino Handled The Crate Challenge
Smino was the headlining act for the first night of the two-day festival and delivered his smooth, sultry rhymes to a welcoming crowd. The St. Louis-bred musician hit the stage wearing a purple and green ensemble with crispy white Air Force One tennis shoes. With his long, natural hair tied into poofs, he sang and rapped his melodic music with the assistance of vocalist Schenay Mosley. With crates stacked up at opposite ends of the stage, he teased the audience he was doing the “crate challenge” as he hopped on and off the plastic bins.
Smino ran through songs like “Wild Irish Roses” and “Merlot” before asking the crowd what record they wanted to hear in closing. As he engaged in the back-and-forth and asked if they want to cry or turn up, the eager audience began to sing the lyrics to “Klink” before he initiated the performance of the whimsical song.
Rico Nasty Ignited The Rage
Rico Nasty blazed the AFROPUNK stage with fiery red-orange tresses and the energy to match. Not missing a beat, the DMV-bred rapper took the Nasty Mob through songs from her early career to recent releases. She rocked out with lyrical performances of “iPhone,” “Buss,” and “Poppin” as she bounced across the stage, boosting crowd engagement encouraging everyone to mosh out.
The 24-year-old raspy-toned rapper screamed her brash, angsty lyrics and adlibs into the microphone as she closed out with two of her most defiant records “Ragin,” and “Smack A Bi*ch.” Members of the audience mirrored Rico Nasty’s energy, jumping and dancing in place as they sang along.
The Ladies Had Their Mics On
Women vocal talents dominated at AFROPUNK 2021. Standout performances from Baby Tate, Foushee, Tems, and VanJess highlighted every performer’s ability to sing, rap, and engage the audience. Georgia native Baby Tate entered the stage in a floor-length leopard print puffer coat. Once the outerwear came off, the show began as she delivered lively performances of her trending records “I Am,” “Eenie Meanie,” and the soon-to-be-released “Pedi,” among other songs.
Foushee wowed the audience with a delicate performance of her most popular records including “Clap For Him” and “Deep End” while playing the guitar. During her performance, the alt-R&B singer noticed she was “ashy” and stopped to get lotion from an audience member, a moment they will definitely not forget.
Singers VanJess also had standout performances with soothing live vocals that wowed the crowd. The sister duo engaged the audience in a collaborative two-step and performed songs including “Slow Down,” and “High And Dry.” Tems, carrying the wave of she and Wizkid’s summer hit “Essence” the Nigerian singer made her American festival debut at AFROPUNK. She brought the feel-good vibe with performances of the aforementioned song as well as “Higher,” “Crazy Things,” and more.
Wale Fused D.C. And Nigerian Culture
Rapper Wale was the final artist to take the stage on the closing day of the festival and he did not disappoint. Accompanied by The People, the DC rapper ran through throwback joints and newer tunes, inviting a couple of special guests to the stage. His set included live performances of “Lotus Flower Bomb,” “Need To Know,” and “Pole Dancer” backed by the acclaimed GoGo band.
Accompanied by Rotimi, the two brought “Naija vibes” to the AFROPUNK stage. He was also joined by Mannywellz, and Rick Ross for a showing of “Diced Pineapples.” The biggest boss remained on stage for an exciting performance of “B.M.F.” with Rico Nasty servicing as the hypeman. Wale closed out the night with a performance of “No Hands” with a guest appearance from featured artist Roscoe Dash. A clear crowd favorite, the audience rapped Wale’s verse clearer than any sing-a-long performance the entire weekend.