Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Music is far from something that should ever be categorized or separated due to race. Music is about emotion and about feeling what you're listening to. It’s more than just background noise and it’s far more powerful than we sometimes allow it to be. It’s an art form, it’s a connection and truth is, all races, all social classes, all people can relate to music, and not just one type of music I think we can all relate and enjoy something from every type of music.
It disappoints me when people categorize music by race or instantly shut down when a certain type of music comes on almost purely based on a cultural stereotype or by the teaching that it’s just “weird”. In the black community there seems to be “black music” and then everything else. I hate this. Being black doesn't limit an artist or a fan to rap, hip-hop and soul. It doesn’t limit an artist to anything and I love to see black people breaking that mold and jumping across lines. The black community seems to still continue to use Soul, Rap & Hip-hop and R&B to gauge people. Those who like and listen to music on a regular basis outside of that are somehow “less black”.
Metal and all of the enclosed genres with it, have been primarily known as a “white thing” in many black communities. Despite the fact that rock came from black people and some of the many legends in rock have been black. I have heard many stories of black people who love metal that hid their collections, hid their liking for the music because the black community would call them things like “wanna-be-white” or would simply ostracize them for liking something different. As a kid I was often called “Oreo” or “Coconut” for being half black. Black/brown on the outside and white on the inside. This had to do with my musical variety and my speech patterns mostly. It doesn't feel good and I spent a large portion of my younger life feeling like I wasn't “black enough”. So I’d like to send a nod to a few black people doing it up in metal with much respect. There are many more than I am listing but here’s a start to some of, what I feel are great black artists who have or are breaking the mold.
Alexis Brown - Straight Line Stitch - Metalcore
Alexis Brown of Straight Line Stitch is one of the very few black females who are tearing it up in the metal world. Straight Line Stitch is Metalcore band out of Tennessee and while I’m typically not a big fan of Metalcore Alexis gets big ups from me. She’s doing a great job with her craft.
Howard Jones - Formerly of Killswitch Engage - Metalcore
Unfortunately Howard is no longer with Killswitch Engage to help better manage his severe diabetes that reportedly put him in a coma for three days in 2013. He is also reportedly working with a new band called Devil You Know. Howard Jones has been lead singer of Killswitch since 2002. In the early 2000s Killswitch was one of the frontrunners for the “New Wave of American Metal” selling over 4 million records in the U.S and just continuing to grow.
Derrick Green - Sepultura - Groove Metal/Metal
To metal fans Sepultura is sort of a legend, they have been called on of the most improtant metal bands from the 90’s and the most successful Brazillian metal band ever. Green is well known in the metal community and deserves that respect.
Carley Coma - Candiria - Mathcore/Rap Metal
Candiria was one of the first bands that really got me thinking about race in metal. I saw a video for “blood” one late night and loved that Carley didn't look metal, he looked like where he is from. He’s from Brooklyn. As I got more into Candiria I learned about their unique almost, jazz metal sound on some tracks into their more death metal sounding older stuff and more melodic newer metal. I became a fan.
Crackdust - Death Metal
Crackdust is the only all black metal band on my list. They hail from Africa and while they haven’t climbed the ranks of Metal stardom they have made a bit of a splash.
Lajon Witherspoon - Sevendust - Alternative Metal
Sevendust is another very famous metal band from the 90’s categorized as one of the most influential bands in the 90’s. Interesting to me is Lajon was first the front man for a soul group called Body & Soul in 1994. Impressed with his vocal abilities Vinnie and Morgan of Sevendust asked him to join and the rest is history.
This is just a start. Most of these aren't even the bands I listen to on a regular basis but they are proof that metal isn't "white". There are more that are out there doing it and more that should be doing it. We can’t and shouldn’t be stifled by cultural pressure. If you like metal, listen to it. That goes for everything in your life. If you like it, then don't be ashamed of it and don't condone or encourage shaming of people who are outside of the cultural norms. As Blerds I think we all understand and can appreciate that more than most. Have a great day blerds and rock on.