Maybe I miss composing music reviews as I did the past six years for About.com, http://dancemusic.about.com/sitesearch.htm?q=Jimi+Bruce+reviews&SUName=dancemusic, and therefore welcomed this opportunity to critique a new CD. Actually my fiancee`, Nina, is a huge Lenny Kravitz fan and as usual since I met her, came-up with this good idea that I write about him in my blog. But it took me a month or two to realize what she meant – the old language translation omitting the urgency (Russian is her native and English is coming along w/my help) – so now in my true “late-bloomer” style, we have the “Black and White America” write-up! Far from an enigma, even though he hasn’t recorded in quite some time, Lenny Kravitz really is one of the hardest working, cleanest, most photogenic and popular (especially among the ladies) musicians of today.
The first time I played a Lenny Kravitz song on the radio I was in 1999. With a name like his, I felt that he had been around a long time, but that wasn’t the case in the northeastern USA on Adult Contemporary and Top 40 radio stations. Yet, “Lenny Kravitz” just sounded familiar as if he had been a mainstay.
There is a nice, semi-consistent brass presence on the album along with other varieties of rhythm and sound. My Nina seems partial to those collaborating with Troy “Trombone” Shorty, judging by the You Tube videos that she has sent me this summer and fall. As James Brown would admonish “Sinclair” in his old band, “Don’t play so much Bone Brotha!”
I’ll in-part employ the Frankie Crocker rating system of denoting a “sure-shot”, “World Premiere” and “Pick-hit” as I rate some selections. “In The Black” is pure, classic Kravitz and the sixteen songs are well placed in-succession to provide a nice mix and flow of the record. “Liquid Jesus” plays next, and I swear he must have been channeling the late Marvin Gaye on this one. It is “Gates” from the first note; Bravo! The title track, which is a plea for the American racial divide to get over itself and catch-up with our times, “Black and White America” is my ‘World Premiere’. He uses his parents as an example when he sings, “In nineteen sixty three my father married a Black woman and when they walked the street they were in danger…” Lenny’s father was a Ukrainian man. “Superlove” is the cute, Brothers Johnson-like song that my past experience as a Top 40 radio DJ tells me would make the charts of a contemporary hit station, and thus is my Pick Hit. By not mentioning all of the other tracks, I do not mean to imply that they are in any way unworthy of my top rankings, but these are ones that have produced the most tune-wedgies in my musical mind since I copped the CD. Speaking of “top rankin” that was a tune by the late Robert Nesta Marley, and Lenny Kravitz apparently did some time well-spent in the Caribbean while composing this album. One of his brilliant skankings is my Sure Shot, “Boongie Drop” featuring Jay-Z. It is a rollicking dancehall adventure of spliffs (in the hip Hop monologue) and booty movements. “Roll sister, roll on it/Don’t make the music stop/Go on make that boongie drop…” Be sure to press “repeat” a few times for the full effect! The jazzy “Looking Back On Love” also caught my ears due to the long instrumental bridge that will have you momentarily thinking another CD entirely or the radio somehow started playing. “Psyche!” I am impressed that Lenny played drums on all of them according to my research. A friend commented about Kravitz apparently being in-touch with his spiritual and/or religious side via frequent references to deities throughout the lyrical content. That’s alright, we know Lenny is our hard-rocker at heart and a little Godly humility may just add to his success and longevity.
PICKHITTS: He is so creative! My fiancee` and I admire his creativity.
Partially, thanks to Lenny’s music we have grown our relationship. Once I found that Nina appreciated music, it was just another solidifying quality! We sent his songs back and forth. Nina’s level of music appreciation is incredible! She sends me Slavic or Russian videos and I send her American music videos; sometimes I send to her to see if she has heard of this or that artist. Music is the best way to cross cultures initially, we found. She and I talk about how he must have a photographer follow him around day and night, there are so many photos of him in all stages of dress (and Undress, LOL)! His harmless vanity is rather amusing. Nina is so proud that Lenny’s roots are in Kiev and we have grown our love partly to Lenny Kravitz’s music (“I Belong To You” for example). Nina says, “Let Love Rule! Bravo Lenny!” Our story is his parents story, redeux! Twenty-first century style! I dedicate the hymn “Dream” off of this album to my Nina and me. She sometimes teases me that I am a dreamer, and I reply similar to the lyric, “It all starts with a dream/The dawn of a new day/The God inside of you will always see you through…” Kravitz parent’s story is now our ‘dream’.
No longer with Virgin Records, Lenny is now managed by Craig Fruin and Howard Kaufman (HK Management) and heard on RoadRunner Records distributed by Atlantic; I’ve heard rumor there is VINYL of this! Well you know I want one! LOL
I give it 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars! Worth the wait.
I wonder what advice Lenny’s parents would have for Nina (the Ukrainian beauty) & Naphtali (the Black American man) today?
Please DO Comment! Thanks Nina for the inspiration – again(-: