Brooklyn's annual Afropunk Festival returns this weekend, happening Saturday (8/27) and Sunday (8/28) in Commodore Barry Park. The lineup is stacked as always, and honestly it'd probably be easier to narrow down who we aren't excited to see than who we are. That said, we picked six artists playing that we're especially excited about seeing this specific weekend. Here are our picks:

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    Ice Cube

    Ice Cube may not have put out a great record in a while, but the reignited interest in NWA (thanks in part to the Straight Outta Compton movie and the Rock Hall induction) has had him bringing out NWA members during festival sets (like Riot Fest and Coachella). The chance that he might do that here is reason enough to see his set, but even if he doesn't, we can most likely count on hearing classics from that group (and his solo career of course). And going by those recent live shows, he's totally still got it as an MC. [Andrew Sacher]

  • Downtown Boys at SXSW 2016 (photo by Amanda Hatfield)
    Downtown Boys at SXSW 2016 (photo by Amanda Hatfield)

    Downtown Boys

    While Afropunk is stacked with big names, there's plenty of smaller stuff worth seeing and Downtown Boys may be the most unmissable of all of it. It's pretty difficult to see this band and feel nothing. They're a total party of a punk band, complete with sax, and they're likely to cover Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark." Their show isn't all fun and games though. Downtown Boys truly care about equality -- be it gender, race, sexual orientation or something else entirely -- and they'll make sure you care about it too by the end of their set (if you don't already). [A.S.]

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    Laura Mvula

    Laura Mvula came out swinging with her 2013 debut Sing to the Moon, which -- among other things -- was home to "Green Garden," one of the best pop singles of 2013. It was inoffensive enough to play at Starbucks (I heard it a lot at Starbucks that year), but also adventurous enough to keep us music nerds seeking out the rest of the album. This year's excellent The Dreaming Room is even more adventurous, and arguably a little too overlooked. She's got disco legend Nile Rodgers playing on the album, plus musicians from The London Symphony Orchestra are on several songs. It's truly heady pop music, and we bet it'll be a treat to see live. [A.S.]

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    TV on the Radio

    Would Brooklyn have been the same without TV on the Radio? The group were all but synonymous with the early '00s Williamsburg scene, breaking barriers, bridging genres, and blurring the lines between art and pop. Some of them may live in LA now, and Williamsburg ain't what it used to be, but TVOTR continue to be vital 15 years on, as 2014's terrific Seeds proved. [Bill Pearis]

  • photo by Danny North
    photo by Danny North

    George Clinton (before Thundercat & Flying Lotus)

    Funk icon, writer of all the best '90s g-funk hooks, and timeless cool cat, George Clinton is on the rise again at age 75, having just signed to Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label. Playing the Gold Stage on Saturday, the same day as recent collaborators FlyLo, Shabazz Palaces, and Thundercat, we're hoping for an extra large mothership at Afropunk. Fingers crossed. [B.P.]

  • Shabazz Palaces at Eaux Claires 2016 (photo by Graham Tolbert)
    Shabazz Palaces at Eaux Claires 2016 (photo by Graham Tolbert)

    Shabazz Palaces

    There's rumors of a new Tribe Called Quest album, and there IS a new De La Soul album, but the '90s alternative hip hop group of Summer 2016 is officially Digable Planets. First we got a reunion tour that included a huge free show in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. That was followed by an announcement of even more chances to see them, and meanwhile, Ladybug Mecca (of Digable Planets) recently revealed a new project called BROOKZILL with De La Soul associates (NYC show included). Compared to those developments, it's old news that Seattle resident Ishmael Butler (Butterfly of Digable Planets) has successfully reinvented himself with the great Sub Pop-signed project Shabazz Palaces, but his return to Brooklyn for Afropunk (not long after OPENING FOR RADIOHEAD), means we can catch Shabazz, Digable Planets and BROOKZILL all within a 2 month time frame. It's good to be here. [Dave]

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