A collective of Toronto-based artists is hard at work raising funds to help them get to Brooklyn, New York.

Aside from networking and connecting with NYC-based artists, one of the main reasons this eclectic mix of 20 musicians, photographers and designers are headed to Brooklyn is for AFROPUNK, a music and arts festival toted on its website as being at the “epicentre of urban culture inspired by alternative music.”

“What we want to do is we want to bring artists to New York in order to experience the art scene there and experience AFROPUNK.” – Arden Maaliq

Though he’s never been before, Arden Maaliq – who is spearheading the Toronto to Brooklyn initative – says always hearing positive things about AFROPUNK over the years made him want to do this.

“What we want to do is we want to bring artists to New York in order to experience the art scene there and experience AFROPUNK,” explains Maaliq. “It’s part of a larger project to just take artists outside of Toronto in general and just have them go to art scenes in different parts of the world.”

As part of the fundraising initiatives, Maaliq and friends put on The Narrative last Friday night at Toronto’s Studio Bar as an effort to showcase the talents of the artists involved in this project.

Special guest hip-hop artist, WolF J McFarlane fired up the crowd with some humour performing “Bye Felicia”, a song about “that moment when a guy or girl is trying to holla at you and they’re thirsty and desperate,” while poetic storyteller Faduma Mohamed, who is a part of the initiative, offered heartwarming whispers like, “I love you more than I tell you.”

Maaliq believes that the artists in this collective are in line with AFROPUNK’s mission, representing alternative music that is “that real funk, that real honesty that people want to hear in the music that they don’t get from mainstream music and from the radio.”

Other performing artists involved include Dynesti Williams, Aria Zenua and Xolisa.

Xolisa says this wasn’t just a ‘regular show’ for her. She is particularly excited by the fact that this group of new-age Toronto artists united to just ‘squad up’ and make something happen for themselves.

“We’re actually coming together to try and go to another city, like go to Brooklyn … We’re gathering and we’re just raising money ourselves and we’re going. We’re just doing it. I love that.” – Xolisa

“We’re actually coming together to try and go to another city, like go to Brooklyn and some of us, like myself, have never been to Brooklyn, have never travelled with music before. This will be my first time going somewhere on behalf of my music,” she shares. “We’re gathering and we’re just raising money ourselves and we’re going. We’re just doing it. I love that.”

Upon returning from AFROPUNK Fest NYC – which goes down August 22 and 23 at Commodore Barry Park – Maaliq, Xolisa and crew will continue the momentum of The Narrative with BLVCK, a series of projects aimed at pushing forward Black arts in Toronto and abroad.

Photos By. Chantal Rose © Urbanology Magazine