In My Record Collection: Lenny Kravitz – Black and White America (2011)
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Lenny Kravitz has been spreading his message of love, faith, and hope through a gambit of musical genres for over three decades. While I have always enjoyed Kravitz’s brand of hippie infused rock & roll, glam, soul, RnB, and psychedelia, some of his albums as a whole leaves a lot to be desired.
With Circus (1995), 5 (1998), and Baptism (2004), it seemed like Kravitz was getting into an all too comfortable groove of alternating between early '70s album rock and early '70s soul, with the occasional Prince-esque track thrown in for good measure. While Kravitz continued to release hit singles, he sounded worn down, struggling to find a balance between his rock star status and his bohemian sensibilities.
In my opinion, things really turned around for Kravitz with his ninth studio album, Black and White America. The record was made up of a whopping 16 tracks with Kravitz sitting behind the boards and playing most of the instruments.
While Black and White America may not contain a runaway hit single like Are You Gonna Go My Way or Fly, but it more than makes up for it with its consistency and variety. The album is astoundingly diverse yet cohesive, making for an adventurous and entertaining listening experience.
Granted, Lenny Kravitz isn't reinventing the wheel here, but he is finally delivering the album that we expect from him. Black and White America is an inspired set of tracks set to an incredible amalgamation of musical genres all wrapped up together on one album.
Over the years Black and White America has become one of my “go-to” albums from Lenny Kravitz. Besides Let Love Rule, Mama Said, and Are You Gonna Go My Way, it is the only latter-day Kravitz record that I will listen to in its entirety.
In my opinion, Black and White America is one of those albums that you have to listen to from beginning to end, but if I had to choose highlights it would be the following. The funky title track, the raunchy; Come On Get It, the 80s inspired; In The Black, the pop-rocker; Stand, the slow-grooving/funky; Superlove, the hard rocker; Everything, the reflective ; Looking Back On Love, and the James Brown influenced Life Ain't Ever Been Better Than It Is Now.
No matter your preconceived notions of Kravitz or how diverse your musical taste is, Black and White America is one of those records that should be part of record collection.