AfroPunk 2017

 

afropunk

 

By Kareemah Muhammad

This year’s Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn was nothing short of soul-stirring and I was there for every bit of it! Afropunk fest set the stage for an array artists Saturday and Sunday, who represent the black diaspora.  Artists from every music genre you can imagine including rock, soul and hip-hop captured thousands of attendees.

Fans were thrilled to see their favorite indie and mainstream artists hit the stage. Day 1 of the fest included a much-anticipated performance by SZA and the headliner Solange who sang with such eloquence moving the crowd with her vibrancy and bold persona. (She even did a little twerk action, ha!)

One festival attendee named Q from Baltimore, MD said, “A lot of artists are like blinded by the fame and once they get to a certain point they don’t go hard for their fans. She goes hard for her fans.”

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Solange performing on stage, Afropunk 2017

On Day 2 it was British singer Nao, who had droves of fans waiting over an hour to see her perform. Singing her hits including Fool To Love and Bad Blood as well as a myriad of other favorites left the crowd on a natural high.

Yet, it was Raphael Saadiq who shut the stage down Sunday night during his headlining performance. He took us back with the all time favorite, Anniversary and hit classic Dance Tonight. FYI, he hasn’t changed a bit! Between him and Pharell I need answers!!! Haha.

 

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Raphael Saadiq performing on stage, Afropunk 2017

Not only does Afropunk Festival bring out the best in music they have a commitment to social activism coining the phrase “We The People,” to let the world know that they don’t support any form of hatred against any group of people or individuals. At the fest, they had Activism Row where different civic and social organizations came to the fest to inform attendees about how to get involved in their communities.

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Ian Weissman (2nd from left) and HeadCount Volunteers, Afropunk 2017

One of the organizations at Activism Row included HeadCount, a non-partisan organization that runs voter registration drives at music events. Ian Weissman, the New York Team Leader at HeadCount spoke on the importance of registering to vote and why voting locally matters stating,

“What’s important for us is what our local city council officials are doing or our mayor.  Not that it’s not important to follow national politics but it’s important to get people more aware about what’s going on, on a local level.”

One thing I cannot forget to mention is ‘all the people in the place with style & grace’. When I tell you from the headpieces, to the fros, kinks and curls, bangles and body art the people were beautiful! To see such pride in ones attire and presence was powerful.  Check out a few of my faves below!

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All in all Afropunk Festival is here for the culture, but it’s also here for understanding and embracing one another regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, age or sexuality. It ‘s a microcosm of how a world of respect and love can look like. The best part of it is was to see people of all backgrounds come together for the love of the music. One love!

For more photos from Afropunk and more, check out my page on Instagram @msdocumentaree.

CurlFest 2017

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THE UPN on the Scene at CURLFEST - July 2017  

By Kareemah Muhammad

Saturday July 15th The UPN was on the scene for one of the most anticipated events for women of color: CurlFest. Friends and families gathered at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY to show off their amazing curls, style and shop with the top beauty brands in the business.

CurlFest is now in its fourth year and was started by co-founders Charisse Higgins, Melody Henderson, Simone Mair, Tracey Coleman and Gia Lowe.

“We’ve been working on this for…almost a year and it’s just humbling and amazing to see it be what it is today,” says Charisse.

 

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Charisse Higgins, Co-Founder of the Curly Girl Collective

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Founders of the Curly Girl Collective (l-r, Melody Henderson, Tracey Coleman, Gia Lowe, Simone Mair, and Charisse Higgins)

Festivalgoers were able to see the CurlFest co-founders and the CEO’s/Executives of their favorite beauty brands during a panel discussion. These brands included Shea Moisture, Mielle Organics and Iman Cosmetics.  The representatives of these brands got to share their new campaigns and product launches like Mielle Organics new Mongongo Oil line that was launched at the fest.

Owner of Shea Moisture, Richelieu Dennis speaks on the panel with other CEO’s/Executives from Crème of Nature, Tropic Isle Living, Iman Cosmetics and Mielle Organics

One topic of discussion was on responding to consumer’s needs. Monique Rodriguez, Founder and CEO of Mielle Organics stated,

“I don’t believe in formulating products and putting it out on the market of what I think that you want to buy, I actually listen.”

Not only did festival attendees get the latest insights from the brands they love, they also got their hair and makeup done, exclusively by stylists from brands like Iman Cosmetics, Clairol and Mielle Organics.

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They also had a game zone and “Empowerment Circle” featuring speakers such as celebrity hair guru Ursula Stephens and filmmaker Spike Lee who brought the cast of his upcoming Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It.”

With over 50 vendors, CurlFest had everything from artwork to clothing that embraced the black experience and the attendees were here for it!

One of the vendors included Harlem Candle Company founded by Teri Johnson. Teri spoke on the experience that she wanted festivalgoers to have with her products at CurlFest stating,

“I want people to experience the essence of the Harlem Renaissance through our collection of evocative fragrances inspired by cultural luminaries, jazz legends and people who came before us.”

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Teri Johnson, Founder of Harlem Candle Company

Lest not we forget, the style and of course, THE HAIR was impeccable! The curlistas, naturalistas (& gents) proved why curls are to be celebrated and show that the style cannot be duplicated. I made sure to include the event highlights and all those who SLAYED, below!

All in all CurlFest truly exemplified what it means to love and embrace all curls, kinks and frizz while feeling empowered for doing so!

To learn more about CurlFest and the Curly Girl Collective be sure to follow them @curlygirlcollective on Instagram. For news, events and updates on the Urban Professionals Network (UPN) visit us at www.theupn.org and follow us on Instagram @theupn.

 

IMG 4033About Kareemah:
UPN New York Ambassador 

Kareemah is a creative, foodie, and 90's R&B fanatic who resides in Brooklyn, NY. She loves all things that promote culture, beautym and being unaplogetically black. Follow her adventures on Instagram @msdocumentaree for event coverage and highlights in New York City.

 

 

 

Soul Sessions

 

 

The Quest Presents..."Soul Sessions" Open Mic Night!

August 23, 2017

Lady Sola

The UPN was in the building for Soul Sessions -- a fun and high energy infused open mic event. Soul Sessions is a mix of the unique New Haven culture, dope music and passionate creative people. The purpose of the event is to spotlight and support local talent who craves to share their voice, lyrics and music with a crowd that supports them. 

During the first edition of Soul Sessions on Saturday July 29th, members of The Quest Presents all contributed to the event through their performances, behind the scene work and live music production. Taking place at Soul de Cuba in New Haven, items sold during the event were donated to Cubanakoa Foundation

Markdamighty performed "Alcohol" and "Gelato" from his latest EP "EN" which can be downloaded here.

           Chef the Chef and Mooncha performed their collaboration "Sorry".

Sooooo...as you're reading this, you might be thinking "who is The Quest and why should I spend my valuable time learning about them?" Well lemme tell you.

The Quest Presents is a four member group based out of Connecticut. Chef the Chef, Markdamighty, Mooncha and DJ Fife bring a chemistry and cohesion only seen by the likes of Justice League. Their sound is deeply rooted in hip hop elements, but highly combustible. Essentially shape shifters, capable of bending any genre to their liking and even creating new ones along the way. Each member brings something different and important to the table musically.

                  (L to R: Chef the Chef, DJ Fife, Markdamighty and Mooncha)

DJ Fife is the musical caterer, curating shows and producing and arranging songs for the group. Mooncha represents the gifted showmanship and improvisation for The Quest Presents. Markdamighty brings the pain and emotional element while Chef the Chef spearheads the flow and the linear infinity that the musical plane presents.

As much as each member brings a specific trait to The Quest Presents, they encompass many layers of talent. All members are gifted with lyricism, producing and arranging songs, The Quest Presents is a train that runs on its own fuel and they can never be pigeon holed into one sound, image or genre. Alone, each member of The Quest Presents is a star in the making, but together they present a force that is difficult to ignore. 

With an Odd Future-esque chemistry that was bred through long friendships and common goals, The Quest is ready to present the future of music.

Follow on Instagram: @markdamighty @_mooncha @chefthechef @fidiasfeliciano

Follow on SoundCloud:

Markdamighty: https://soundcloud.com/markdamighty 

Mooncha: https://soundcloud.com/mooncha

Chef the  Chef: https://soundcloud.com/chefthechef

 

Bougie Brunch

THE UPN on the Scene at Bougie Brunch - August 2017

 

By Kareemah Muhammad

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The UPN was on the scene Saturday at the Bougie Brunch in New York City. The event was hosted by the BB Group with over 100 women of color in attendance.

The Bougie Brunch is a networking event for women of color from diverse backgrounds and professions. Founded by close friends Ericka Hatfield, Shawanda Green, Joi Adams and Lyndsay Christian, the Bougie Brunch has nearly doubled in attendance since the first event in June.

“We have to fight so many battles every day and it’s so nice to be in a space where it’s positive and it’s encouraging,” said the CEO and “The Bougie Innovator,” Ericka Hatfield.

 

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Bougie Brunch founders (l-r) Lyndsay Christian and Ericka Hatfield

Attendees were treated more like sisters than patrons. Each attendee was asked to stand and speak about their career or business goals. In that moment, some women would stand to share a contact that would benefit another attendee. In addition, some women were encouraged to “speak up” in a comforting way to acknowledge that their voice and dreams mattered.

Shawanda Green, Bougie Brunch COO stated when it comes to networking you should, “Take a chance, don’t be shy and ask for what you want.”

 


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Bougie Brunch founders (l-r) Lyndsay Christian,
Shawanda Green and Ericka Hatfield

Not only did the Bougie Brunch provide a space for women to network, recruiters from Google, L’Oreal and Etsy were invited for attendees exploring new career opportunities.

Love Sujeiry, an event attendee who works in radio and has her own a blog site, felt compelled to hide aspects of her career from employers. After meeting with the Etsy recruiter, Sujeiry was encouraged to “embrace her story,” learning that the right opportunity will fit according to her skill set.

Desiree Lilly, a recruiter from L’Oreal was excited by the number of women who were interested in opportunities at L’Oreal. Yet, in some instances she found that attendees who had applied did not gain employment at L’Oreal. After discovering this Desiree stated, “At L’Oreal we pride ourselves on diversity. The next step is to make sure we’re at more events like this.”

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Desiree Lilly speaking with a Bougie Brunch attendee

Ericka Hatfield came up with the Bougie Brunch idea while at a birthday brunch with some of her close friends. Originally from Texas, Hatfield spoke about moving to New York and having to meet new friends and build new relationships. Her hope is that the women attending the brunch found both “professional and personal contacts.”

Alyssa Buchanan, an event attendee did just that, mentioning that she “put [her] elevator pitch out there and made some connections.” In addition, Buchannan said the event was “very open and inviting” and that she made a personal connection with someone who works at the same non-profit that she is apart of.

 

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Alyssa Buchanan, Bougie Brunch Attendee

The Bougie Brunch gets the stamp of approval for not only creating a fabulous brunch experience and space to flaunt all that #blackgirlmagic, it showcased an undeniable feeling of affirmation and concern for the dreams of black women who at many times hold their dreams within.

As Joi Adams, the Bougie Brunch CTO stated, “They take away sisterhood. They meet new people and they actually continue to connect with those people.”

To learn more about the Bougie Brunch and the BB Group please visit their website at thebougiebrunch.net

 

IMG 4033About Kareemah:
UPN New York Ambassador

 Kareemah is a creative, foodie, and 90's R&B fanatic who resides in Brooklyn, NY. She loves all things that promote culture, beautym and being unaplogetically black. Follow her adventures on Instagram @msdocumentaree for event coverage and highlights in New York City.

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