Saul Williams headlines Afro-Punk/CMJ showcase
Stephon Johnson | 4/12/2011, 4:38 p.m.
With this week marking the beginning of the College Music Journal (CMJ) Music Marathon & Film Festival, New York City will be flooded by bands, music scribes and record labels looking to sign, promote and market themselves.
One such entity is Afro-Punk, which will showcase several artists Wednesday night at Irving Plaza. Among those scheduled to perform are poet/artist/writer/musician Saul Williams and the bands Rough Francis and Activator. The performances will mark the beginning of Afro-Punk's first national tour.
Williams rose to fame through his fiery poetry honed during many open mic nights. In 1996, Williams won the title of Nuyorican Poets Cafe's Grand Slam Champion. His experience was chronicled in the documentary film SlamNation, which follows the 1996 Nuyorican Poets Slam Team. His most recent well-known output is the album "The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust!" a joint collaboration with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. He also appeared on Nine Inch Nails' 2007 album "Year Zero." Williams has also worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, KRS-One, De La Soul, Nas and Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine.
Rough Francis is comprised of the sons of men who are considered to be pioneers in punk rock. Bobby Hackney, Jr., Julian Hackney and Urian Hackney are the sons of Bobby Hackney, Jr. who in the mid-1970s played with the Detroit-based Black-punk rock band Death. A 1974 demo tape of Rough Francis was re-released last February by Drag City Recordings called "...For the Whole World to See." Activator is a New York-based hardcore band that recently released an EP titled "The Unfortunate Lovely EP." On top of their affiliation with Afro-Punk, the band is also affiliated with New York-based indie-rap label Definitive Jux.
While the performances will keep the Irving Plaza crowd entertained, their will be activity between sets too. During the breaks the crowd will witness freestyle BMX and skateboarding, which is similar to the entertainment that the annual Afro-Punk Festival in Brooklyn provides.
Inspired by the 2003 film Afro-Punk, which chronicled the story of Black punk-rockers in America (as told by the punks themselves), the Afro-Punk movement has grown into a nationwide community, website and a Midas touch to the career of many Black bands. The 2009 tour will feature artists like The London Souls, The Smyrk, Hollywood Holt and Krak Attack.