When you think of Rock n Roll: Metal, Punk Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Pop Rock, or Soft Rock, usually the names that come to mind are bands that are predominantly white. When you are a black person that loves to listen to Rock Music, you are often teased about which race you belong to, because the genre of music is racially based heavily on society and their markers. Rap music belongs to Black people and Rock Music belongs to White People? Not necessarily, and not likely. Overall music belongs to whomever it reaches, and whomever it can touch. The world is made of music, and in my opinion, that’s how the earth breathes.
When I think of Rock Music, the first that come to mind is the music of Heart, Guns n Roses, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, and Carlos Santana. Not gonna lie. However, I also think of Jimi Hendrix, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Lenny Kravitz, Tina Turner, Nona Hendryx, and so on. To me, Rock Music is not the subject of “white” music. Rock music in my definition is the art performed by loud poetic souls who are blessed to be different, and creative. Black people in Rock music do not often get that recognition anymore, and I understand why that is, I just believe that is crazy. Black people use their magic in any form they choose and it is gorgeous, but when it comes to Rock, I believe there is a form within that accentuates freedom, passion, and desire ignoring the standard of which kind of music belongs to whom. This is what I find wildly inspiring.
- Tina Turner
The world of Rock and Roll would be dull without plenty of voices, but the absent voice of Tina Turner would leave the genre without sassiness, and flavor. As most of us know, Tina Turner got her start singing with former husband Ike Turner as “Ike and Tina Turner.” The two grooved their way to the top with songs such as “Proud Mary”, “Shake Ya Tail Feather”, “A Fool in Love”, and “I Think it’s Gonna Work Out Fine.” Together they were ageless, but a part from the music, violent and emotionally unstable. After their departure from one another, Tina had the motivation to continue on her own, though many have said, including Ike Turner that she wouldn’t amount to much as he did, however, many realized that it was her voice and intensity that brought them just as far. Tina Turner had a change of ambition which lead to rock music in which she could emphasize her own creativity. She has a number of hit singles that include, “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, “Private Dancer”, “Steamy Windows”, and much more. Her lyrics provide her path to loving herself, enjoying the good stuff that life brings along with sensuality and love.
- Lenny Kravitz and Cree Summer
Going back to the 90s and early 2000s, there is nothing sweeter than the sound of neo soul with the hint of electric guitar, and the bellow of a raspy voice. This is a special blend into Rock music, and it is carried by the eccentric lovelies Lenny Kravitz and Cree Summer. It’s no secret that the cool Lenny and Cree are affiliated with exhilarating Lilakoi Moon (Lisa Bonet) and Zoe Kravitz. The families together are different beings of the universe, and can still to this day carry those same vibes throughout their music and acting. Although Lenny Kravitz and Cree Summer are two different people with meaning and ambition in each other’s music, they have similarities when it comes to their music. Lenny music can often be referenced as Neo-Soul as well as rock. His style is emotional, desirable, and openly interchangeable. He has produced and collaborated with the lovely spring time goddess, Miss Cree Summer on her solo Album Street Faerie. Together the music is almost supernatural. Cree Summers voice and lyrics are spellbound, exotic, cultural defining, and very personal to her mindset and her aura. They both define the qualities of 90s and early 2000s rock music along with the mixture of neo soul.
- Jimi Hendrix
The psychedelic grandfather of time and the left-handed architect of the electric guitar. Such titles belong to none other than James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix. The man of drug induced dreams is the definition of music especially in the 1960s. His acid provoking playing is astounding and noticeable as a black in the 20th century playing electric guitar. In my eyes, he is one of many black men who stand out of the box as man of color, bathing in color the strings and the atmosphere of his sound. Are You Experienced? Have you released the spirit inside of you that dances, screams, and sets fire to the earth? Have you created a place in your existence where imagination overrules reality? Jimi Hendrix, has. He was able to bring to life his imagination and reality through songs such as, “Purple Haze”, “Third Stone From the Sun”, “Foxy Lady”, and “All Along the Watchtower”.
- Nova Twins
More than anything, I’ve wanted to see black girls and woman create punk rock music. I wanted to see woman of color scream, curse, and give absolutely zero fucks about labels. However, they are still ladies, ya dig? Just like the Nova Twins, a punk rock female duo based in England. I recently came along these lovely ladies as I was searching for more punk music with Black people, mostly women, to get into. After listening to their song “Mood Swings”, I instantly fell in love. Seeing these ladies appearance, sent goosebumps up and down my arms. In today’s world, black people are unapologetic and personal giving the world our story, and letting them never forget that we ARE indeed here. Something that has been historically pleasing. Rarely do we ever see black women such as these two stepping up to the plate as their own inner and outer punk style. The Nova Twins, are amazingly talented, and anything but ordinary. Their musical style is underground alternative, rambunctious, and mesmerizing at the same time as utterly attractive in songs such as “Bassline Bitch” “Wave”, and “Drums”.
Rock music is not noise, it is emotional and reviving. What better way to let out your happiness or anger? There is always a loud, electric, punk kind of magic that we carry inside of us. A few of us choose to ignore that, but most of us truly access this in ways of our choosing. Our success. Though it is often taken from us and we are forgotten, the spirit is alive. The idea of black people who rock is inspiring to me because it is a spirit that I’ve been afraid to release for most of my life. I’m sure there are other young black girls and boys who have similar feelings, and that’s okay. You are not “less black” because you prefer rock and soul over rap/hip-hop, you are not “less black” because you want to play acoustic guitar, you are not “less black” in the least bit. You are fierce, you are a bold poet, you are weird, and completely natural. You are a rock star.
Favorite songs from the artist:
Jimi Hendrix- Third Stone from the Sun, Voodoo Chile, Are You Experienced?
Tina Turner- I Might Have Been Queen, Steamy Windows, Foreign Affair
Lenny Kravitz- Again, Fly Away, Are You Gonna Go My Way
Cree Summer- Curious White Boy, Deliciously Down, Mind Noise (w/ Subject to Change)
Nova Twins- Mood Swings, Thelma and Louise, Losing Sleep, Strange Town
Article written by Patience Hopkins