Two lines formed outside of Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn as people of all kinds waited eagerly to dance, gyrate, and feel the vibrations coursing through the culture.
The party, curated by Afropunk and sponsored by Red Bull, had a number of artists who showcased their work and fueled the energy of the gathering. Afropunk, which began in 2005, is now a place for many different genres of music and art. The first performer, a singer/rapper named Quin, describes her music as “Fantasy Soul.” An apt name, her music is clean studio production mixed with the emotions and vocals of a neo-soul singer. Much of Quin’s performance felt a bit off-key, and I feel that perhaps she was having a tough time adjusting from the studio to the stage. Her charismatic nature, however, kept the audience in good spirits, and the obvious excellence of the production on her songs was conducive to a mellow vibe. Quin pulled up with Madame Gandhi, an excellent and eclectic drummer who began her set by laying a sparkly gold mat on the drum kit. Madame Gandhi’s percussion was impeccable and her drums complimented the beats being played very well. When Quin was finished with her set, DJ Tiger Paw kept the energy going, as he played drum-heavy dance tracks that moved feet and hips.
As the next performers set up, I realized that some of the band members were missing. Though earlier I had seen Jojo Abot and her band mates taking pictures outside, all five of them, there were only three musicians on stage. The three, a guitarist with blue hair, a keyboard/synth player, and a drummer, began to play a mixture of psychedelic rock instrumentation as well as tribal sounding percussion. The two remaining band mates, including Jojo Abot herself, marched onto the stage from within the crowd. The two were waving faux horsetail whips and a flag. Abot is a powerful performer, and the member of the band that entered the stage with her accentuated the band’s performance as a whole with her expressive dancing. Abot added a vocal energy to the music that was a fusion of wailing and singing, forcing the audience to feel her energy without necessarily understanding her exact meaning. Jojo Abot came to sing, but she also came to talk about the Revolution. She egged the audience on to release fear and hatred, and to “let your conscious eat you alive until you do the right thing.” Abot and her tribe’s whirlwind of artistic vision is a force to be reckoned with, and it was a privilege to witness.
The final performer, Leikeli47, was easily the most coveted of the artists. When she entered the stage wearing her signature mask, the audience let out yelps of joy; we had been waiting all night. Leikeli47 played throwback party music, such as “Apache (Jump on It),” “Milkshake,” as well as the much-needed Biggie tracks. She is a real rapper, with bars to back her name up and energy to rock any crowd. Her message was simple, to not think too much about anything that isn’t truly serious, and to just have some fun. Though definitely a contrast from the previous performer’s ideology, it is perhaps just as true. Leikeli47 makes Brooklyn proud with her music, and her own confidence is proof of a natural New Yorker. Despite being primarily a rapper, Leikeli47 can sing too, and when she opens up those pipes her soul shines through. 47 is an artist that can wear many different masks, but though her face is covered her art is truthfully displayed, and even if we can’t see her face we can still connect with her. I have no doubt she will continue to rep New York and make us proud. The entire event was almost like a teaser for the bigger Afropunk festival that will take place August 26th-27th in Brooklyn. If this party is any indicator of how the festival will pan out, it is going to be lit.