D’Angelo is set to headline the epic 10th edition of the AfroPunk Festival, which takes place on Saturday, August 23rd and Sunday, August 24th at Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park. This year’s installment features four stages of music, with an eclectic lineup rounded out by soul singer Lianne La Havas, Ice-T’s thrash-metal band Body Count, hardcore punks Trash Talk, singer-songwriter-bassist Meshell Ndegeocello and experimental hip-hop outfit Shabazz Palaces.
The fest – described in a press release as “a celebration of the all of the diverse communities populating the modern DIY landscape” – will include the heavy/punk-oriented Black Stage, a Speaker’s Corner (“where the politically minded can speak theirs”), an Art Wall featuring original works from visual artists, various food trucks and the Spin Thrift Market (featuring 100 vendors selling crafts and goods).
The lineup also includes Cold Specks, the Internet, Straight Line Stitch, SZA, Fishbone, Alice Smith, Valerie June, Unlocking the Truth, Cakes da Killa, the Tontons, Gordon Voidwell, Clipping, Denitia and Sene, BLXPLTN and Cipher and H09909, along with various DJ sets and dance music from local and underground musicians. More artists are expected to be announced, and additional details are available on the festival’s website.
The disparate range of acts is impressive, but the biggest draw is clearly D’Angelo. The reclusive R&B star has spent the past 12 years recording, tinkering with (and delaying – and delaying again) his long-awaited follow-up to 2000’s acclaimed Voodoo – though in a recent interview with Billboard, D’Angelo’s manager, Kevin Liles, said the LP is set to arrive at some point in 2014, with a tour to follow (possibly starting in October and running into 2015).
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“[I]t’s very melodic and there’s an influence of all the things he loves: there’s James Brown, there’s Prince, and everything people grew up loving D’Angelo for, from Brown Sugar to Voodoo.” Liles said, describing the album. “It’s a mixture and an evolution of where he is right now. And you have to think that when you have the opportunity to work 10 years on an album, that album’s truly gonna be what you want it to be. Is it limited to the kind of sound that he did with the earlier records? No, it’s not.”
In a recent interview with author Nelson George, the singer was cautiously dismissive of the “neo-soul” tag affixed to his early work and hinted at what his future music would sound like. “I respect it for what it is, but anytime you put a name on something, you just put it in a box,” said the singer. “You want to be in a position where you can grow as an artist. You never want to be told, ‘Hey, well, you’re a neo-soul artist.’ Right now, I’m not. We’re going someplace else.”