Artist: Lenny Kravitz
Album: Black and White America
Genre: Funk Rock
Good ‘ol American music doesn’t really mean much anymore, it used to be the driving force of the entire music scene, a celebration of Americana; everything it meant to be an American musician, but these days, it doesn’t really exist in any genuine sense anymore, aside from maybe The Gaslight Anthem. Some relics connecting us to the past still exist today, but they’re typically just old, frail shells of their past fame. There are very few modern interpretations of this past glory, at least, though not very many that begin to do justice to the past. All the genres that have defined the past and progression of America throughout the past century are most of less just stories of the past. Rock n roll, blues, funk, and so on seem to not really have a place in today’s world. Either that, or there simply aren’t any musicians these days that can do these legendary genres any justice. Of course, there are still a few modern purveyors of this classic ode to Americana, although they don’t really command quite the same level of recognition as their past contemporaries, some do come quite close. Lenny Kravitz, for example, has been at it for more than 20 years, and has been in the forefront of the music scene for a good portion of that time. Of course, for the past few years, not too much has been heard from Kravitz, at least in a musical sense, he has had a few movie cameos, but naturally, he couldn’t stay away from music for too long. The result of this drawn out recording process is Black and White America, the culmination of two years of work – in the Bahamas, mind you, so it must not have been very grueling work – in an attempt to continue his tradition of reinventing the old school music that has defined the growth of this nation, something he seems to be rather good at.
There really isn’t any question about whether Kravitz still has what it takes to write good music, the real question is whether the fans are still interested in such a thing, or not. And more importantly, has Kravitz been able to deliver an album that can reinvigorate his rather large fanbase, once more. Unfortunately, this album might miss the target with some of his old fanbase, but it will certainly find the right crowd on it’s own. This album isn’t a modern interpretation of classic rock like a lot of Kravitz’s past work, this album is almost pure funk, and it was executed quite well I might add. It might leave his fans expecting a rock album wanting more, but those aficionados of old school funk are going to love Black and White America. Kravitz takes old school flavors of funk, a staple of American culture for the past 50 years, and all the themes that come along with it, including a heavy emphasis on racial roles in America, and injected a more modern feeling, thanks in a big way to modern day superstars like Jay-Z and Drake. From the slower paced jams like “Sunflower” or “Superlove” to the heavier hitting tracks like “Come On Get It”, this album absolutely oozes soul. In fact, it is probably the most honest attempt at a funk album seen from anybody in the past twenty years.
All said, while slightly different from past Lenny Kravitz albums, Black and White America is definitely along the same vein. Instead of rock n roll, he pays tribute to funk; a different genre entirely, but still very much playing into his entire ethos of the modern celebration of classic Americana. The album itself is very solid, very well put together, and boosted by a few heavy hitting names, but most importantly, you can feel the genuine passion put into this album, which is really what the foundations of funk and rock n roll are all about anyway. And maybe that’s why very few musicians are able to pull off such a thing anymore, but thankfully, Kravitz will never have any problems when it comes to passion.
Reviewed by: Mike Hogan