I’ve been rocking with Lenny Kravitz since 1990 when I was running with my old head Sean from 69th & Ogontz Avenue in Philly. At the time, I was 16 and all I listened to was hip hop, and I really mean ALL I listened to was hip hop. Sean was a dread dude who was 4 years older than me and listened to any and everything. If you stopped through his crib you would hear everything from the Isley Brother’s “Summer Breeze” to De La Soul’s “Ring Ring Ring.” But the one CD that was played over and over AND over again at his crib was Lenny Kravitz’s “Mama Said.” This album was Lenny’s heartfelt love letter to his wife at the time, Lisa Bonet about their breakup amid rumors of an affair between him and Madonna and this became the first non hip hop album that I fell in love with. In fact, “Mama Said” made me open my ears to different genres of music other then hip hop and for that I’ve always been Indebted to Lenny. Which is why anytime he’s got something new on tap, I’m all ears and with his newest release “Black and White America” about to drop, my ears are wide open as ususal.
“Black and White America” sets the album off and has Lenny explaining “In 1963 my father married a black woman/and when they walked the streets they were in danger, look what you done/but they just kept on walking forward hand in hand” over some of the funkiest bass playing I’ve heard in years and “Come On and Get It” sounds straight menacing like something out of NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” catalog. Lenny breaks out his vintage Korg DDD-1 drum machine and channels his inner Marvin Gaye for “Liquid Jesus” and “Rock Star City Life” sounds exactly what the title would lead you to believe.
The first single, “Stand” is a funky summer time groove and “I Can’t Be Without You” and “Looking Back On Love” are both perfect in my eyes. And if you’ve peeped the behind the scene footage of Lenny recording both “Superlove” and “Everything” then you already know what you’re in store for with both of those. “Sunflower” featuring Drake is the 2011 “Roller Skating Jam Named Saturday” skate anthem and “The Faith of A Child” and “Dream” both slow the party down and represent the kinda music I wish more artist would make with nowadays with everything that’s going on in the world. “Push” ends the album perfectly with Lenny explaining “I’m gonna push my life today/push to make a better way/gonna push cause I have to carry on/I’m gonna push the clouds away/push so I can see the way/gonna push until I find my way home.” “Boongie Drop” featuring DJ Military and a totally uninspired Jay Z who checks in with a wack verse in a horrible fake patios accent will probably be the song most folk hate on but not even Jay shooting bricks, can ruin how good this album is. I honestly can’t tell you the last time I enjoyed listening to an album as much as I’ve enjoyed listening to “Black and White America.” Every time I turn around, I’m singing a different chorus and picking a new song as my favorite or playing “air guitar” (peep Jack Black’s “School of Rock”) while I’m listening to the album. Not to mention the music flat out bangs on this album from start to finish and I dare ANYBODY to beef with that.
Whenever I hear most people talk about Lenny, I always hear things like “he’s not doing anything groundbreaking” and “it’s a great song but it sounds like such a such.” And I’m always wondering, what do ya’ll want Lenny to do? Reinvent the wheel? Find the cure for cancer? Invent a new instrument? See, I’m a simple dude. If the music is banging, it’s banging…period. Too many writers use comas in their work instead of periods. My debate teacher taught me in undergrad that if you take the word “but” out of a sentence, that it becomes a very short debate and an even shorter sentence. So instead of reading “it’s a great song but it sounds like such a such” you’d get to read “it’s a great song.” Much better right? So, let me follow my own advice and simply say this is a great album…period.
10 outta 10
Now let the Lenny hate begin…