As much as white artists get criticized for performing “black” genres such as R&B, hip-hop, and blues, many black artists are not so much criticized as ignored when they perform heavier, guitar-oriented music. Which is bizarre, given that, you know, rock & roll was pretty much invented by African-American musicians. While groups such as the Black Rock Coalition fight the good fight against this sort of race-based musical pigeonholing, we offer this Black History Month list of big-name black artists who have brought the rock–either all the time or in specific tunes–over the years, bridging those artificial gaps the Music Industry has tried to impose on us as music fans and human beings.
In the '80s, hardcore was mostly played by intense, disaffected young white men. The major exception was Bad Brains, a D.C.-based group made up of slightly crazy black guys who were equally influenced by punk, jazz and Rastafarianism. The 1986 album I Against I was their masterpiece, and “House of Suffering” a fast, heavy and complex highlight.
Did you think we were going to forget Lenny? The multitalented half-black/half-Jewish musician mixes the classic and the modern as well as anyone in rock. On “Always On the Run,” Kravitz teamed up with fellow biracial guitar god Slash for a good-ol'-fashioned rocker that anyone of any background can enjoy.