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Op-Ed: "An Ode to Lenny Fucking Kravitz"

For those not lucky enough to have a brother who blasted Pixies, kids like us grew up watching BET, MTV, VH1 or listened to the radio stations that our moms blasted in the car. Like many of you, I grew up liking a little bit of everything, but loving rock music I, too, had to go through a little identity crisis, when I found that the vast majority of rock musicians weren't black. That was until one man blasted onto the scene. (Well, two, if you count Hootie and the Blowfish.) His name is Lenny Kravitz.

By Lightning Pill, AFROPUNK Contributor *


Before writing this article, I composed a list of people I wish I knew more about or heard more from, due to them dabbling in rock or alternative. Some I have and some I haven't heard before. The list contained Res, Chocolate Genius, Cree Summer, Dionne Farris, Terence Trent D'Arby and Kina. I knew nothing about Fishbone back then. Lenny Kravitz was one of those lucky enough to not just crack the mainstream, but completely shatter the glass, and prove that there was nothing wrong with black people holding a guitar and rocking out.

I imagine that I'm not the only one in my childhood who listened to rock and eventually wished that they were white. Not because it was anything cool to be white, but we were conditioned to believe it was the norm for white people to rock. You knew nothing about Bad Brains, and although in this genre, black people were allowed to rock, you damn sure didn't want to hear no blues music. The music you liked, white people either liked or made... or so you were told. Along the way, people, including your own black brethren, thought we were weird for liking "white" music. (Later on, they did the same thing for you "talking white", "acting white", "hitting the skins like a white person", etc.) So, one of the first thoughts you had was how much you wished you were white. Rightfully, my mom scolded me for such a comment. But what could a black boy do? Insecurity based upon my color was ingrained before I even touched a guitar.

That is why I have to thank Lenny Kravitz for being one of the few to break the mainstream while juggling a bit of everything, from soul to rock music. Though, it wasn't enough to validate the thought that we could do anything, it was enough at the time.

After going back into his catalog, I realized that Lenny Kravitz had one goal in mind with his music: inspire some form of positivity. Whether the messages were of spirituality, love, pacifism, or celebrating the good life, I had never come across one tune that was pure vitriol, anger and negativity. With Lenny Kravitz, it was all love. It still is.

Today, Lenny has a few people throwing shade his way saying that he didn't write original tunes. Even an old Entertainment Weekly review accused him of mirroring the styles of plenty of soul singers and rock musicians. I’m not really concerned with that. I’m more concerned with what he helped do in the mainstream. He brought music that was romantic, spiritual, positive, and caused many a black kid to play air guitar with pride.

So, I'm giving a shoutout to Lenny Kravitz, who made it possible for anyone black to be proud of rocking or making music that, in retrospect, we have been making all along.

Rock on, Lenny!

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Comment by Clifton Bronson on January 14, 2014 at 7:23pm

Right On! Right On!

Comment by SHINOBI NINJA on January 12, 2014 at 5:03am

sick!

Comment by OLIO on January 11, 2014 at 6:33pm

Nice Piece, Thx!!

Comment by Mawsi on January 9, 2014 at 2:13pm
And Lenny is a god damn good performer on stage.
Comment by Larry "Grey Eagle" Beaner on January 9, 2014 at 10:53am

Thass right! I was lucky enough not to care about other's opinions (I got so damn sick of that "white boy music" crap from "my people"! I told them they were copping out on their own heritage; WE were the foundation of rock & stop spouting the white establishment's B.S.) You go, L.K.!

Comment by Ketina on January 9, 2014 at 9:16am

I agree Lenny K kept the music he created real and heartfelt instead of rebellious.

Comment by Colo-Red on January 8, 2014 at 6:10pm
Hell yeah.


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