Sunday, January 10, 2016

Selected YouTube Comments About AfroPunk Music

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents selected comments about Punk music in general and AfroPunk music in particular from the YouTube discussion thread of the 2003 [?] documentary entitled AfroPunk. That video was published on YouTube on March 13, 2013 by AfroPunk. A link to that video is included in this post.*

This post is part of an ongoing series on AfroPunk music & fashion. Click the "AfroPunk music" tab below for other posts in this series.

Click for a pancocojams post that provides general information about the Punk music genre and its sub-genre Hardcore Punk. That post also provides information about the African American hardcore Punk band Bad Brains.

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

I'm just learning about Punk music AfroPunk music and am compiling these comments in my self-assigned role as a community folklorist.

My introduction to AfroPunk occurred less than a week ago by way of an internet discussion about the AfroPunk festival -a festival I had previously known nothing about. After some video viewing and internet reading I decided that this pancocojams blog which focuses on African American and other Black music and dance should include posts on AfroPunk music.

In my research for this series of posts it seems to me that most websites only focus on the fashions worn by attendees of Brooklyn, New York's AfroPunk festival (and in doing so mostly show photographs of that fashion with little to no descriptive information or comments.) I intend to publish pancocojams posts about AfroPunk fashion, but I believe that subject should be secondary to information and comments about the history of and the current condition of and attitudes toward AfroPunk music.

I retrieve and republish selected YouTube comments because I believe that those comments (and others) are folkloric and sociological (and also sometimes creatively written literary) artifacts that are worthy of preservation, documentation, study, and discussion apart from the videos or sound files that they discuss.

The documentary video which prompted this discussion thread contains profanity. I'm not embedding that video in this post because I've chosen not to include such language in this blog in videos and in text except for certain words whose complete spelling I've masked. I also mask the spelling of the pejorative referent for Black people which is now commonly referred to as "the n word". I've done so because of my own values and because material containing those words and reference are more likely to be excluded from consideration as supplemental educational resources in United States public schools.

In some cases on this blog I've included comments that contain profanity but used the marker "profanity deleted" in place of that profanity. In other casess, I've partially spell that (what I consider to be problematic) word and noted with an asterisk that the completely spelled word was originally found in that comment.

Here is the summary statement that was published for that video (with the n word given in masked form)

"AFROPUNK - "The Rock and Roll Ni---r Experience" was the original title for the movie before it was changed to what we know as today: AFROPUNK - The Documentary, a 66 minute documentary explores race identify within the punk scene. More than your everyday "Behind the Music" or typical "Black History month "documentary this film tackles hard questions, covering issues such as exile, loneliness, interracial dating and black power. We follow the lives of four people who have dedicated themselves to the punk rock lifestyles. They find themselves in conflicting situations, living the dual life of a person of color in a mostly white community."

For more news on AFROPUNK go to:
Visit our website:

AFROPUNK - The Documentary features performances by Bad Brains, Tamar Kali, Cipher, and Ten Grand. It also contains exclusive interviews by members of Fishbone, 247- spyz, Dead Kennedys, Candiria, Orange 9mm and TV on the Radio to name a few."

These selected comments are from

A number of comments in that discussion thread discuss racism and other topics that are pertinent to the subject of AfroPunk music. However, I've chosen to focus only on selected comments that specifically discuss the history of and conditions of and attitudes toward AfroPunk music.

This compilation isn't intended to represent all of the comments in that discussion thread that discuss Punk music in general and AfroPunk music in particular.

These comments are presented in relative chronological order with the oldest comments given first, except for replies. However, these comments may not be in consecutive order. I've assigned numbers to these comments for referencing purposes only.

The opinions expressed by these commenters are not necessarily my opinions.

1. ChargerBullet
"I think there was only about 5 or 10 minutes worth of Punk in this. The majority of this is the new-age hipster clowns with the chugga-chugga music, windmill dancing, hysterical-woman screaming by guys or the whiny PC girls singing, or the guys in sports jerseys saying "[four letter form of the n word deleted]". A much more interesting documentary would be on blacks in the original Punk and Hardcore era. There are way more than the handful mentioned at the end. Of course they weren't incessantly whining about things. I remember coming across a website a while ago that listed Punk bands with at least one black member and the number was staggering. The truth of the matter is early Punk and Hardcore had involvement from people of other races besides white. More so when you include the international Hardcore scenes. It just wasn't a big deal because political correctness had not manifested yet.

"Afro Punk"? I'm guessing this is similar to the revisionists that want to rewrite history and force the genre of "Chicano Punk". I'm pretty sure the Hispanics that played in all those bands (The Bags, Stains, Part Time Christians, Zeros, etc.) never referred to themselves as that. Quit with the PC hippie [profanity deleted]. It is not just the Blink's and Green Day's that have killed Punk but people like the creator's of this documentary that are contributing. It is like they are purposely fracturing and splintering the underground by making more and more factions and genres to further split and divide in until there is nothing left.

Except for the Bad Brains clip, the background music and song clips aren't even Punk. Oh, but they so want to present Fishbone and Orange 9mm as Punk bands."

2. spacepunk nappy
"Proud to be AfroPunk before the labeling...growing up in the hood,I was the "different black girl"...Builds character & made me stronger by staying true to myself...Now I'm the different & self love ROCKS..."

3. jordanadnb
"<---- was Afro-Punk before such name/label existed."


4. Dick JonesOCP
"and a lot of drums in punk rock tracks sound like black sanctified church music agent orange bored of you and youth brigade blown away are proof of this"

5. nograviti
"I don't see what afropunk is beyond middle class black people, pushing free of stereotypes and not feeling guilt about not wishing to identify with outdated notions of a so called black culture"

6. Ric Ng
"in reply to pyrostrike uk
The problem is - White people (friends included) don't relate to you, you have to relate to them "Like having a Black sun (son) in a White world". They think it's their thing you encroach on, like Hendrix at Woodstock wasn't entirely welcome. It is essential that Black people dive deep into their Black culture. It is doubly powerful if you relate to the ALTERNATIVE culture as well. I've been there too. Notice Hendrix and Bad Brains are better than their White peers. They basically are peerless."

7. Jacob Kussmaul
"Afropunk could have been the next big thing last decade. such a creative scene. reminds me of what happened with grunge in the 80s. Damn..I'd like to see that happen someday"

8. Orwell Mushaikwa [2014]
"I'd rather it stays as it is, if it was to go mainstream then it would be corrupted by the music industry, I mean just take a look at pop :U"

9. cathridge [2014]
"Grunge is a totally different thing than afropunk. Grunge is a style of hard rock. Afropunk moviement isn't just punk. It' can be any alternative kind of rock performed by black artists. The point is, they're not just playing music that they would normally be stereotyped into playing (rap, r&b, gospel, urban, etc). If you ever go to an afropunk show, it won't just be hardcore punk. It might metal or art-rock too. But the artists will be mostly black. "

10. butterstix24 [2014]
"+cathridge Yeah, it reminds me a lot of the first wave punk scene when the umbrella was much wider and punk was just a general term used for garage rock and underground music as a whole."

"i can honestly say that race seemed to not exist in the punk scenes i was a part of back in theeeeee day. like i'm talking late 80's early 90's.
but of course i couldn't see it through black eyes (being white), so i may have missed it, but it was definitely about the most embracing place i knew of then, or since.
i'm not oblivious that it may have been there, at least in some people's interactions. of course we acted harshly against overt racism but who knows what subtleties there were. "

12. cathridge
"I was looking forward to see this five years ago. After seeing it, Im a bit disappointed. I would have liked to see some of the older black rockers and punk rockers. The concept of Afropunk (blacks not conforming to stereotypes or status quo within their own racial group) predates the terminology. Blacks have been into rock and other genres long before the 90s. There were blacks at Woodstock and hanging out at CBGB's in the 70s. I know for a fact there is a legion of old school black punks spread out n NYC, DC and Philly. They may not still play in bands or hang out at the clubs every night anymore but they still maintain their rocker spirit and lifestyle. It would have been nice to get their perspective on how they were received back in the 70 and early 80s.

Also it would have been nice if they had either interviewed or at least mentioned some of the other well-known or established black acts and punk musicians. There were some credits at the end but 15 seconds of video performance speaks so much louder than a talking head with no name subtitle. They should have taken 60 seconds to create a montage of various black punk and metal rock bands and musicians playing live. I saw Jimi Hazel from 24/7 Spyz there but there was no subtitle to say who he was or the importance of his band to the black rock fan movement until the end credits. End credits doesnt really cut it. The movie is over by that time and people are leaving. They touched on and showed some footage of Bad Brains which was good because they are important and essential to any discussion about punk rock. They barely breathed on Fishbone but at least I heard their name and saw a clip of lead singer Angelo Moore. A blink-or-you'll-miss-it flash of the band Pure Hell was added with no mention of who they are. They were the first all black punk rock band in the 70s. They played with and opened up for The Sex Pistols in the 70s during the height of their fame. NO discussion of black punk history should be made without mentioning them. The filmmakers really dropped the ball on that. There was also no mention of Living Colour. They aren't really punk rock however they fit into this discussion very well since they are a black group who made a name for themselves playing hard rock.

Overall, Im glad the film was made but I wish it spent less time on making Afropunk look like nothing more than a racial movement and more time showing examples of black punk rockers who made it successful. Don't get me wrong, it was nice to hear everyone's story and it was important to know that blacks still had to push hard to be accepted even into a culture that claims to be without borders but that should have been the first half of the movie while the second half concentrated on how everyone found confidence in accepting themselves for who they are rather than letting anyone typecast them.

13. WriterPoetHumanBeing
"I agree with you when you say that they should have mentioned more than just Chuck Berry. Little Richard, and Bad Brains. In fact, I think they should do a whole new documentary featuring old and new black rockers! However, I think the concept of Afropunk makes sense because of the fact that some people think that rock is just white people music. This thought was mentioned in the film, but what wasn't mentioned is the fact that white people culturally appropriated rock music from black people so much that some people just think white people invented rock music. In fact, white AND black people created rock music by fusing country and blues together. "

14. cathridge
"This is the second and third hand punk. That's why it doesn't sound authentic.. Most of these kids are too young to have been conscious enough to understand the 70 punk and hardcore movement when it was around. It's like those kids you see walking down the cultural street in your city, wearing leather jackets and sporting mohawks. 30 years after punk. Note that most of them said they heard punk from their older siblings and one dude name-checks Green Day. Really???? Green Day? Not the Germs, X, Fear or Dead Kennedys? That's embarrassing right there but then none of these groups calling themselves punk today are any real heirs to the throne either, black, white, yellow or brown. But they should sound like themselves too not like 70s punk. This is '10s punk now.

However, its not really cool to down them because they got their punk from a different source from the original. You get your info however it comes to you. Not everyone got into The Beatles and The Rollling Stones straight from the source. Some were Utopia and XTC and Black Crowes and The Strokes fans first."

15. InternalMind
"I hate it when people think that "punk" means nothing more than "BE YOURSELF AND DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!!!!" it's wayy deeper than stupid domestic social problems, it's about revolution of the whole planet.... not just a few corrupt govts and councils! wake up..."

16. windchimes323
"The irony about most cultural movements and musical genres in the U.S. is that many of them have origins in black culture (see: rock and roll; see: the "cool" aesthetic; see: hipster) and at first it is openly mocked and degraded, until white people decide they like it too... which is fine, or would be, until they decide they have complete ownership over it and then banish the originators from the movement they created, and then rewrite history and pretend it was theirs from the beginning. It happens too much. It's happening to hip hop right now. They've decided it belongs to them, and are kicking black people out."

17. G Raw
"Dunno about NY or other cities but in Philly (where Im from) I don't ever remember there being a problem w/accepting blacks into the scene...I mean the 1st true punk band from Philly was Pure Hell- an all black band."

18. labrae
"Listen to the band called, Death. They're the first punk rock band. They're protopunk. Awesome band."

19. NewDawnFadesX
"Do they predate The Stooges?"

20. Shayne O'Neill
"Whats "real punk" or "the first punks" or whatever is the least useful argument in the punk rock world. It got borting to argue about it 30 years ago, and it still is. Just [profanity deleted] do what you want and be who you wanna be."
Editor: "Borting" is probably a typo for "boring"

21. Ross Holloway
"Great ...the whole point about punk is it is not about your colour or your sexuality or nothing really, except the whole normal sh&t*"
*That word fully spelled out in this comment

22. AtheisticConclusion
"I grew up in a very diverse area, and was always shocked that there weren't more black, and Hispanic kids at the shows. In my neighborhood we were all into hiphop, but I was the only one who was in the punk rock scene. I used to BEG them to come to a punk, or ska, or HC show with me. Not one neighborhood friend ever did in all the years I was going."

23. James McMichael
"punk is all about breaking the stereotype, which is awesome to see many choosing that. anytime i see someone outside the stereotype, i respect that person more than any other, because it takes a bit of bravery, but also a spirit willing to let go and take some chances in life. The more you learn the better you are."

24. Andrew Smith
"The scene where i'm from (Jamaica) is small and people of of ethnicities are the minority but it's not an issue cause we love the music, and we get a sense of belonging that we CAN'T get anywhere else"

25. Toby Gibson
"This movie must come from a 1990s base- in 1980 there were black and Latino punks, and some of them played or sang in bands. This documentary comes off as kind of a whiny plea to recognize people who may or may not have been part of a punk scene. Just play in a band- play punk rock- maybe now people are more bigoted-but in 1980 no one would have stopped a black person from starting a band- we needed a bass player sometimes- if he or she were black- so what? We needed a bass player- we didn't give a [profanity deleted] if they were black or white or asian or whatever- you just had to play bass."

26. cazprescott9
"+Toby Gibson Keep in mind that this film started being made in 2000. It took about 3 years to complete. James actually maxed out his credit cards to do this. Nearly everyone in this film has been part of punkrock for 20+ years. They were ecstatic to sit down & tell their life stories to James, cause the 'mainstream' didn't want to hear from 'whiny' negroes.Watch the bonus videos. They feature D. H. Peligro from Dead Kennedys & Lenny from Pure Hell. They don't sound whiny at all."

27. Toby Gibson
"+cazprescott9 Understood. And just to be clear, I didn't anywhere say "whiny negroes". ;)"

28. cazprescott9
"+Toby Gibson I know that you weren't the one who said that. I got caught up in explaining why people shouldn't just see this documentary as a complaint. I'm a spaz :/
Editor's comment: When African Americans use ‘negroes” as a referent for contemporary African Americans, it's almost always a put down, and it's especially an insult if the word is spelled with a lower case “n”. In this comment I think "'whiny' negroes" refers to Black people who are weak or who act weak. Ironically, in African American Vernacular English someone who is weak or who acts weak is called a "punk".

Also, I don't know what "I'm a spaz" means. Would someone explain that term, please.

29. Zorgoon Trollstones
"this!!!!!!!!! man I can relate on so many levels and i'd love to share my piece but im too lazy to put it on the internet. i'd rather do a video or do it in writing. Because the irony is, modern music came from African Americans and Jamaicans. Period. And rock has always been black. From BB King to Jimi Hendrix to Slash to Tina Turner (those vocals!). Soul, RnB, Blues, Funk, Jazz, Rock n Roll, Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady, Bebop, Doowop, Motown. Get in touch with your roots and you'll realize these ghetto kids who make fun of you are making fun of their roots and depriving themselves of their own heritage and inheritance. They're also limiting their own creativity and constricting their self expression. But on top of it all denying their own complexity as human beings, and thus their own humanity. The Masai and Samburu warriors of Kenya dye their hair/dreadlocks bright red, as do the Hamar people of Ethiopia. The Nuba of Sudan wear elaborate and sometimes spooky face paint, making Black Metal face paint look like a rip-off.. Mohawks are a common African tribal style. Piercings are obvious. The dancing wildly and screaming vocals has always been park of African music, performance and even religion. So is wearing sharp or dangerous looking items as jewelry and adornment. Going through a punk/goth phase and also having been a confused coon helped me grow and get in deeper touch with myself and my culture as a Caribbean American. It was insane how much of our cultures collectively, have permanently transformed Mainstream culture. It's insane. Our hair is also big and wild by nature. Let your afro grow, it's the most rebellious thing you could ever do because it asserts your right to be human. Original. Honest. Your skin alone is the most shocking outfit you could ever wear. I stopped with the hair straightening etc because.. why? Why should I changed the most rebellious hair on earth to conform to a conformist way of anti-conforming lol?"

30. Tishauna7
"The problem with a lot of Blk alt scenes/culture is that they're filled with too much anti-Blk/ intra-racist elitists. That puts an even bigger wedge between Blk folk. I have known Blk people to leave the goth/metal/punk scene because of it."
Editor's notes:
“alt” = clip of the word "alternative"; in this context "alternative music/culture scenes [music genres and cultural spaces such as nightclubs and festivals that aren't usually considered "Black" music or cultural scenes]

"intra-racist" definition from
"INTRARACIAL DISCRIMINATION (also Intra-racial Discrimination): Oppression, suppression, hate, dislike, or distrust of another person or group of the same race based on physical characteristics such as skin color (light vs. dark), hair texture, nose size, etc., but also tribal and cultural reasons, as well as differences in caste or class."

31. violetviolence79
"+Tishauna7 i agreed, i have notice since James Spooner is not longer part of the Afro-punk festival, its been going downhill in my opinion, the media only report what they're wearing and very little about the performers, smh"

32. Sam Jo
"Back in the 80's when we Brits were creating Punk, the skins did not thoroughly embrace black brits, so they broke away and mainstream punk was developed further by our ska, rock steady, beat, two tone Jamaican influences. We used to hang out in Carnaby Street and Camden Market, those were good good times."
"Skins" in that comment refers to "Skinheads".

33. cazprescott9
"+Sales Admin But don't forget that New York & Detroit bands like the Stooges, Ramones, NY Dolls, et al also helped form punk. And Malcolm McLaren actually took the name Sex Pistols from a Puerto Rican NYC street gang. But UK folks really are the ones who made punk a cool universal movement :) Too bad not many black folks here know about the Caribbean contributions."

34. ministryOFmuff
"+CheezInspector The initial sound came from the US - The Ramones and if you go back even earlier stuff like The Stooges and The New York Dolls. England influenced the fashion and attitude aspect and really amped up the aggression and politicised stuff though. Plus like Sam Jo said, it branched off into various other genres in England too."
Editor's note:
The names of the commenters may differ from the names given in the replies because of the push that YouTube had [in 2013? or earlier?] for commenters to use their full names instead of the internet screen name they had made up. If a commenter chose to use his or her full name all of the comments posted by that commenter were switched to that name. However, the replies to that person's comments would still have the old screen name.

35. bill kolectah
"look up Black Death from Detroit. real black punks"

36. Nicole McNeill
"That's not right! I grew up in the ghetto around black people only and I was goth. This is stereotype that all alternative black people come from white American suburbia."

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