Afro Punk Fest 15′

When I think of Afropunk Fest, I think of FREEDOM! This is why every summer, I look forward to this event at Commodore Barry Park. Nope, scratch that, I count down the days until this event, that’s how much it means to me. From the first time I attended Afropunk, it made me feel like I belonged somewhere. It represented a bunch of misfits, who dared to be different, coming together to be great! Does this mean we are misunderstood by society? Of course, it does, but for one weekend, we are among others just like us and no one, not one person will judge you. I swear Afropunk is the best place on the planet for people-watching. It’s epic. The fashion, the food, and the vendors are all out of this world fantastic.

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Afro Punk Vendors travelbyky.com kydee williams

This was the first year Afropunk charged a fee to attend ($45 for a one day pass and $75 for a weekend pass). In the past it’s either been a requested donation or a regular R.S.V.P. I was hesitant at first but soon decided, the performances were worth my money. On Saturday, which was the first day of the festival I caught acts like Sza, Kelis, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and Grace Jones. Sza can sing her butt off. Kelis was fun and pregnant. She engaged the audience and has so many hits that I love—of course, she sang the crowd favorite My Milk Shake brings all the boys to the yard. During the intermission, DJ Beverly Bond turned the house down before Lauryn Hill’s performance. Ms. Lauryn Hill’s performance was much anticipated. I spent weeks listening to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, reflecting on how amazing of an artist she is. I love her. However, her performance was straight up mediocre. Her voice is no longer the same, her sound was low, she sat down for most of the performance even though it’s a music festival and no one beyond the first 5 rows could see her. To make matters worse, she sang my favorite song Ex. Factor with a totally different tune and shortly after her sound completely went out. Like completely stopped working. I will credit her for continuing her performance, that’s the testament of a true star. Some people started to boo her and leave, while others, her real fans, wanted her to win so bad, so we stayed there and encouraged her through the rest of her set. She ended her show with Doo Wop (That Thing) and then suddenly dropped the mic and walked off the stage. I was heartbroken. I felt like a child who just found out Santa Claus wasn’t real.

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Afropunk Fest 2015 travelbyky.com

My friends wanted to leave, but I wanted to stay. I’m trying to hold on to as much of summer as I can. I mean, I hate the winter, there’s really nothing to do. They eventually decided to stay and I am so happy they did. We watched Grace Jones perform and were recuperated. All of our hearts were no longer pained (after Lauryn). Grace Jones killed the game, killed Afropunk Fest, and just made everything great again. She’s such a talent, and her songs are amazing. Once, I was able to shake my memories of her from Boomerang the movie, I was really able to appreciate her as a true artist. She’s wild dope!

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Afropunk Fest 2015 travelbyky.com

After Afropunk, we decided to explore Fort Greene. We went to Walters for a small dinner and then Mo’s for drinks and dancing. Overall, it was a great day. Afropunk is so liberating. The perfect end, to an amazing summer.

Walters Restaurant Kydee Williams travelbyky.com

I love you, Brooklyn!

Maximizing My Summer Saturdays

Dear Summer, you may never be the same again.

I don’t want to be one of those reminiscent adults crying about missing childhood.  There’s a certain freedom that comes with adulthood, one that I greatly appreciate. But the other day it hit me–gone are the days of two-month summer vacations, double dutch, and staying out until the street lights came on. While maintaining a full-time job, it’s hard to enjoy summer like I used to. My summertime fun is limited to two measly days during the weekend which goes as fast as it comes. That’s barely enough time to explore and be consumed in adventure. The second I let my hair down, I’m faced with the reality that it’s Sunday and I must prepare for the upcoming work week.

Recently, I decided to take control of my summer. Yes, I still have to work Monday thru Friday but Saturdays are my days where I maximize my day–I call it double trouble. I leave my house around noon and don’t return home until 1-2AM the next day. Essentially, it’s like two days of activities and new experiences packed into one. This past weekend I had a double trouble Saturday and it turned out to be one of the best days I’ve had in a while, here’s how it went down:

2:00PM Brunch at a new restaurant

The Cecil 210 W 118th St, New York, NY 10026

Summer is all about exploring. The weather is great and there should be nothing preventing you from going out. After a 100-Black Owned restaurant list came out on I Don’t Do Clubs, my friends and I set a goal to tackle some of these restaurants. The Cecil in Harlem is one of them and I finally decided to make the long trek uptown to try it out.

4:30PM A Walk Around Harlem

Harlem is filled with Brownstones and restaurants. The stroll to 96th street was pleasant. We discovered a huge pool in Central Park and the actual tattoo shop of the Black Ink Crew, which is a show on VH1. A major bonus was that some of the cast were just hanging out on the stoop of the shop.

6:00PM Brooklyn Museum First Saturday
August at the Brooklyn Museum is Caribbean Heritage Month. Every year, the museum pays homage to the West Indian Culture that dominates Brooklyn. When I walked into the museum, the first thing on my agenda was to get tickets for the Short Film/Web series Ackee and Saltfish. The viewing started at 8PM, but tickets always go on sale an hour before and the lines are long. After I snagged my tickets, I discovered a reggae concert happening outside. I don’t know who the artists were, but they were singing Soca and getting the crowd hype. Around 8PM, I proceeded to the screening. Ackee and Saltfish was funny! It follows the life of two millennial girls living in London as they touch on issues of gentrification and snagging Lauryn Hill Tickets. I thought it was too short–I wanted more!
After the screening, I went to visit my boyfriend Basquiat. I have grown to love and admire his work. I wanted to see if I rediscovered anything new and fresh.

After watching his documentary Radiant Child, I understand some of his work according to the point in his life he was at. You can see how his art progressed from 1981, when he first started, to the paintings in 1983-1987, that could go for over $3million dollars now.

The Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibit was next on my list. The exhibit was well done and took you on a journey of the history of sneakers starting from the first pair. I love how it paid homage to both Hip Hop and Sports. Sports may have been the reason for sneakers being made, but Hip Hop grew its popularity into the cult culture it is today. I will be sure to write more about this exhibit in an upcoming blog post.

Finally, I discovered the much anticipated FAILE: Savaged/Sacred Young Minds. This exhibit raises questions about our relationship to consumer culture, religious traditions, and the urban environment by blurring the boundaries between fine art, street art, and popular culture. It will blow your mind!

11:00PM Soda Bar and Lounge

629 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

On the walk to Soda, we stumbled across some books on the stoop of an apartment building. I walked away with The Black Book, a book of beautiful and well-executed photography. Before heading into Soda, we stopped in the ice cream shop across the street to charge our phones. Ample Hill Creamery is known to have some of the best ice creams in Brooklyn. I figured since we were there I could try the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake ice cream, but the staff told me to come back in 30-minutes because it was too hard! Maybe next time. Soda was fun. We spent the rest of the night talking and dancing to all the classics. When “I Need A Girl” by Diddy came on, the nostalgic memories of past summers flooded the minds of everyone in the room. After all the days’ activities, I got home around 2AM.

If you’ve been feeling like summer isn’t what it used to be, maybe you’re right! We are adults now, and with adulthood comes responsibility. But we can’t let adulthood win! We have to learn how to make the best of our summers even if we think we don’t have enough time to enjoy it!

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10 Overseas Travel Prep Tips

It’s officially summer folks, which means a lot of us are traveling. Having recently come back from an extensive overseas trip, I have some valuable tips that I want to share with you if you are planning on traveling this season:

1. Passport

Don’t forget your passport. This is probably the most important identification you will have for your trip. Make sure you allow enough time to get a new or renewed passport if need be.

2. Pack Light

With the hikes in baggage prices, avoid overpacking your bags.

3. Exchange your Money before you Leave

The exchange companies overseas will charge fees like you have never seen before. Please avoid them by all costs (pun intended). Also, get a list from your bank of their affiliations with any other bank in the country you are traveling to so you can easily retrieve money without high-cost fees and exchange rates.

4. Research

Do your research on any country you are visiting. I can’t emphasize this enough. A lot of countries all over the world operate differently from us in the United States. There are so many blogs, book stores, google maps, and review sites like Trip Advisor and travel agents out there that can assist with all the information you will need for your upcoming trip. Use these resources; it’s so vital.

5. Itinerary

Probably the most important piece of paper you will have is an itinerary or a breakdown of how your trip should go (even though a few changes may occur). Make sure to have a list of places you are visiting, dates, hotel names and addresses, phone numbers, confirmations, etc. Everything you will need to survive while out of the country should be included on this list.

6. Download Important Apps

There are amazing travel apps out there for smartphone users. On my recent trip to Europe, I downloaded “What’s App” as a means of texting and MagicJack to make international phone calls to my family for free. It’s amazing what you can discover on the App Store.

7. Know the basics

If you are traveling to a country that speaks a foreign language, know the basics words such as hello, good-bye, how much? Where’s the bathroom? So you can communicate with the locals

8. Maps of Train Systems

I think it’s very important to get familiar with different countries’ metro systems (before traveling) so you won’t get lost or overwhelmed. Also using the trains can help save money on otherwise expensive taxicabs.

9. Beware of Pickpockets and Robbers

It seems as if tourists have an invisible sign on their forehead which says “ROB ME.” Some people can spot a tourist from a mile away and with that being said, it’s always wise to be cautious of your belongings, your purse if you are a lady and your passport. You would never want an ideal vacation to go sour because something was stolen from you…what a nightmare.

10. Be Open-Minded

Indulging in another culture unlike your own could be frightening. However, you have to go into an experience wanting to take it to the fullest. Let your hair down and enjoy the lifestyle of foreign cultures. Try different foods, dance in the streets, sleep in, relax and just enjoy life. You never know what you will learn and you may also discover, people across the world are just like you in a lot of ways.

Kydee Williams