Lenny Kravitz is back with his brand new album Black and White America (Atlantic/Roadrunner Records), which hit record stores and iTunes in late August. Hands down the coolest brotha to ever rock the mic, for the ninth installment in his discography Kravitz brings to listeners his signature funk-fueled guitar riffs and bass lines dripping gorgeously with attitude, and a rhythmic sensibility that flies in the face of anyone who dares deny him his rightful place in the pantheon of soul pioneers like James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, and Isaac Hayes. But more importantly, with Black and White America we’re allowed into a more intimate personal space—a space where familial ties and memories blend seamlessly with the bright lights and fast pace of our lives today.
Inspired in large part by time spent on the remote Bahamian island of his mother’s family and—by contrast—in Paris, France, Black and White America does not stray too far from the themes common throughout Lenny Kravitz’s body of work since his 1989 debut Let Love Rule: love, spirituality, personal and collective consciousness, and of course, living life loud and with absolute relish. For his latest outing he treats each of these elements brilliantly, delivering several truly standout tracks. “Black and White America” bursts from the speakers demanding an end to an era of separateness and “otherness”: “We’re the children of the Father/if you’re looking back, don’t bother/We’re Black and White America”. In the song he talks about his parents’—legendary actress Roxie Roker and filmmaker and TV producer Sy Kravitz—interracial marriage and the painful experiences they endured as a result. It’s a poignant reminder that even though much has changed, much remains the same, and there is still more that has to be done. Moving from the socio/political to the almost purely prurient with just enough space to catch one’s breath in between, “Come On Get It” rips through with Kravitz sing/speaking with reckless abandon over an insanely funky track, professing his love and insatiable desire for the object of his affections. The song is absolute rock n roll sex candy.
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On “Boongie Drop” (boongie being a slang term for…er…“booty”), Kravitz shares the mic with Jay-Z as the two superstars bring the dancehall to the iPod. “Liquid Jesus” evokes that good, good ol’ school soul music, with its sparse instrumentation and Lenny’s lovely falsetto drifting ethereally throughout as he sings “Wash me over/wash me down/I wanna get saved, baby/Ooh, liquid Jesus”. Much like Marvin Gaye and Prince, Lenny Kravitz deftly marries the sensuous and the spiritual in a way that causes some to pause while many others just get wrapped up in it.
The single “Stand” is an anthemic call encouraging everyone to keep pushing in the face of adversity. But undoubtedly, “Super Love” and “Sunflower” (which features Drake) are the songs most likely to turn up on mainstream radio, with their massive soulful pop appeal and crossover potential.
To listen to tracks from Black and White America, and to check out Lenny Kravitz’s upcoming tour dates, go to http://www.lennykravitz.com.
Rhonda Nicole is an independent singer/songwriter from Dallas, TX whose EP “Nuda Veritas” is available on CDBaby and iTunes. Follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/rhondanicolemusic and on Twitter, @wildhoneyrock.