The term, “Afro-Punk” relates to African Americans and various minorities who participate in Alternative and Punk music cultures. Members of the Afro-Punk community utilize the movement to reject common stereotypes of Black identity through various forms of art. The movement was sparked in 2003 by the documentary, “Afro-Punk” by James Spooner and Matthew Morgan. The 66-minute footage documented the lives of 4 people immersed in the punk rock lifestyle, while living a double life in a predominantly white community. The documentary discussed black power, exile, interracial dating, and race identity.
After the documentary, the online networking site, www.afropunk.com created by Spooner and Morgan became popular among supporters. Afropunk.com was created to connect the supporters and nurture the artists of the movement. In 2005, the first annual Afro-Punk Festival was held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. The festival was utilized to commemorate the milestones of the Afro-Punk Movement, in relation to music, film, skateboarding, and individual artists.
Afro-Punk Documentary Trailer Afro-Punk 2009 Festival Highlights
Janelle Monae has been deemed the unofficial poster child for the Afro-Punk Movement. Her energetic performances, unique fashion, and conscious lyrics have sparked a strong following. Janelle Monae’s clothing style includes a tuxedo-based wardrobe limited to black and white.
James Brown, Tina Turner, Prince, Michael Jackson and Grace Jones have inspired Monae’s music and style. Janelle Monae’s alter ego, Cindi Mayweather is described as an ArchAndroid from the year 2719 in her first album, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase). Monae stated, “The Archandroid, Cindi, is the mediator, between the mind and the hand. She's the mediator between the haves and the have-nots, the oppressed and the oppressor. She's like the Archangel in the Bible, and what Neo represents to the Matrix.”
Janelle Monae has established a platform in her career to inspire young women to be fearless in their life endeavors and embrace their beauty. Monae stated, “I feel like I have a responsibility to my community and other young girls to help redefine what it looks like to be a woman. I don't believe in men's wear or women's wear, I just like what I like. And I think we should just be respected for being an individual…. I've been in Vogue, now, and different publications, which is cool, because I think that it just shows a different perspective of how women can dress.” At the age of 26, Janelle Monae has been nominated for 3 Grammy Awards in her career.
Va$htie Kola Va$thtie Kola is a video director, clothing designer, party planner and entrepreneur. At the age of 25, in 2006 L.A. Reid, President of Def Jam asked Va$htie to be a creative consultant for Island Def Jam. Later that year, she started a monthly 90’s influenced party, titled 1992. The party grew in popularity and was a hit among many celebrities, such as Jay Z, Jermaine Dupri, The Clipse and Maxwell. In 2008, she launched her clothing line, VIOLETTE. Va$htie’s most recent accomplishment was in 2010, when she was the first woman to design
an Air Jordan sneaker, influenced by her line, VIOLETTE.
Coco & Breezy
Coco and Breezy are young twin fashion eyewear designers. Coco and Breezy received constant teasing and stares from their peers at school due to their eccentric style. The twins decided to wear sunglasses to hide from the constant bullying, as a result the idea for their line Gamela Amor was born. At the age of 18, the two women moved from their hometown Minneapolis, Minnesota to New York City to further their careers in fashion. Various celebrities have been seen wearing Gamela Amor, such as Serena Williams, Ciara, Kelly Osbourne and Nicki Minaj.
Kesh Kumari started her career as a fashion designer/stylist and Internet blogger. As she established herself among celebrities in the fashion industry, she transferred her focus to photography and visual art. Kesh recently launched her new website, www.keshcontinues.com, which is a compilation of her blog and artwork. Kesh has worked with Kanye West, Solange, Theophilius London, and J*Davey.
The women of the Afro-Punk movement are parallel to the Blues Women of the Harlem Renaissance because of their endeavors to define their own morals of woman hood aside from other Black women. Women in the Afro-Punk movement fight mainstream stereotypes of black women to express themselves and to display the various interests of black people. Also, women of the Afro-Punk movement relate to women of the Blaxploitation era in redefining aspects in fashion. Similar to Pam Grier, Janelle Monae has created a new fashion trend with her natural hairstyles and reserved clothing. Afro-Punk women create their own identities based on their personal lifestyles to communicate their independence.