Lenny Kravitz's Point Still Stands

"I'm what the industry's missing / If you want the real tea / Then go ask about me..."
-- Baby Storme, "Bad Girls Club"
This whole Lenny Kravitz situation is pissing me off, so I'm just gonna say my piece and bounce. Because in my humble opinion, the Lenny Kravitz situation...isn't really about Lenny Kravitz. It's about a much bigger problem that is once AGAIN being ignored by our people.

As someone who has also never received an invitation to the Stellar Awards or a write-up in the Source Magazine, I understand Kravitz’s complaint. Sure, I don’t sing gospel music and I’ve never made a rap song but I also don’t know what the hell Kravitz would do at the Source Awards. The Soul Train Awards doesn’t even have a rock category and the last time Kravitz had a song on the top 40 Hip Hop /R&B charts, the BET Awards didn’t exist. Eminem appeared in multiple BET Hip Hop Awards cyphers because he is a hip-hop artist but haters like y’all insist on bringing facts and logic into this emotional argument. Iggy Azalea was nominated best new female hip-hop artist because … OK, I can’t explain that one, but still … (Source)

Let's start right there.

Why doesn't the Soul Train Awards have a rock (or country) category? Same with the BET Awards. Black Americans created both of those genres, and Lord knows Black alternative artists aren't going to get mainstream acknowledgment, so why aren't Black institutions acknowledging and rewarding Black alt artists for preserving and expanding that legacy?

I get that this scene is not for everyone. It takes a certain "kind". But the fact that the BET Awards are willing time and again to honor white rappers over Black rockers says a lot.

Now, let's say these some of these Black institutions are deliberately overlooking Lenny Kravitz because once upon a time, he may or may not have said some tone-deaf, light-skinned shit while actively catering to a certain demographic over, say, a melanated one (I ain't saying he did or he didn't, so let's not get off topic). Let's just say that's what it is, and he is specifically being ostracized for his behavior. Okay. Fine.

...What about everybody else?

 As I've mentioned before, I was inspired to dust off and reboot this blog when I first learned about the unambiguously Black and beautiful Baby Storme. I both read and watched her complain about how she's routinely ignored by Black news outlets (as I've noticed so many of our alternative artists are). You can imagine my lack of surprise that even though we're experiencing a whole Black Alternative Renaissance, Black-owned studios, news outlets, and award ceremonies are largely ignoring it.

We are literally living in a Golden Age of Black alternative subculture so why is the erasure of Black creatives happening all over again?

If you've been following this blog, then you've read the interviews I've conducted thus far and have no doubt seen a pattern: Black alt artists are putting in the work, shedding blood, sweat, and tears for their art--sometimes for decades--only to be paid dust by the mainstream media, by the overarching alternative community, and sometimes even by their own families.

Like...what the fuck? 

When Stormi Maya of Cinnamon Babe bellowed, "Rock 'n' Roll is Black!!!" and the racists came out in force, that was the perfect moment for Black outlets to collectively step up and have her back. It should've been a rallying cry for our award shows to celebrate Black alt artists, and remind the world that we're didn't just arrive, we're not just hopping on a trend, we've been here.

Yet when I Google "Cinnamon Babe" (or any other Black alt artists) it's not Black-owned sites giving them a spotlight. And when Stormi was handily fending off hordes of misogynistic racists, CNN gave her some shine, but it was mainly fans on TikTok and Instagram fighting by her side. The Black community by and large couldn't be bothered to defend not just Stormi Maya, not just the Black alt subculture, but its musical own legacy.

I would've thought we learned our lesson with Death, but why would we, when we didn't learn our lesson with country?

As a West African, the colonization of the banjo is one of the most depressing music history stories I've ever read. Placed in the larger context of the constant erasure and white-washing of Black musical origins, it speaks to a pattern of Black people shooting ourselves in the foot when it comes to protecting our own creations. We can't get upset about the white-washing of our legacy when we don't actively and collectively support the people who working hard to keep said legacy alive.

And I don't want to hear the tired "Devil worshipper" excuse or the "it's not widely marketable" excuse. It doesn't have to be--it's Black. The Black alternative community is as diverse as the Black Diaspora itself. The artists are talented, work tirelessly for years, and they deserve widespread recognition for their contributions to Black music as a whole. The resurgence we are witnessing deserves its place in Black history.

As irritating as the back and forth has been on social media, this was just the fire I needed to get back to doing interviews. After all, somebody's gotta do it.


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