Legendary rocker Lenny Kravitz gives the world a piece of his mind on his new album Black And White America.
Lenny been very busy since he dropped his ninth studio album Black And White America on August 30, but that’s not the only thing Lenny’s been busy with.
GlobalGrind caught up with the busy rocker to chit-chat about the inspiration behind his new album, his favorite things to do and of course his beautiful daughter Zoe Kravitz.
Check out the exclusive interview below!
So what have you been up to?
Oh nothing much, just making movies, rehearsing for tour, and doing design projects, photography, and press. I’m joking because I’m doing so much a day, my head’s spinning.
So Black & White America has gotten great reviews, we’ve listened to the album preview, and everybody’s really super amped to hear what you’ve created.
That sounds very nice.
What inspired you to make Black & White America and what inspired you to come up with the name?
Well first of all … the first question about what inspired the album … I suppose it’s just life that goes through me because I truly have no idea what I’m going to do when I go in the studio. I am a blank piece of paper. I walk in like, ‘Ok, Here I am. Now what?;
As far as Black & White America, I can tell you about the song. That was a rebuttal to a documentary I was watching one night while I was flipping channels. Basically there were these racist Americans that were talking and saying that they were disgusted by what America had become and that they wanted America to go back to the way it was, and that this President would never live long, they had plans to make sure he was going to killed, and you know… just hateful and ignorant.
We all know racism exists. On occasion we bump into it in our daily lives. But to see it being spoken about with such hatred, I was kind of like really? To that level? So I wrote the song as an answer to them, “Well I don’t know what time you guys think it is but this is where we are.” Then it started getting into my parents, and Martin Luther King because that song is truly me. That’s how I grew up. It’s what I know. It’s my parents’ story of holding on tight to be together during the Civil Rights Movement and in a time where they were completely looked down upon by most of society. Some people think that because Barack Obama is president, racism is gone. Are you out of your mind? That’s really romantic but no. Now it means we’re all in the same room and we have to discuss, and we have to talk.
Your album cover is very interesting!
Well, I had no idea I was going to do that and I was in Paris, at home, where I had shipped all my family albums, kind of like my main city house now, ’cause when I’m in the Bahamas I live in a trailer. We were looking through family photos and that picture popped up and my friend said ‘That should be your album cover’ and I was like ‘What? That’s a picture of me when I was a kid.’ I kept looking at it and I’m thinking wait a minute, this is really interesting because it is in that time. I’m in second grade and also I’m looking at the photo with the peace and love written all over me and I’m like Wow, I don’t think about it often, but the person that I am now is the person that I always was. I just thought it was a real personal touch ’cause this album is very … I don’t know, to me it’s really the album. It’s kind of the album I was meant to make.
Who have been some of the artists that have really influenced your music?
From the beginning?
From the beginning.
Well, first would be The Jackson 5, Motown in general, Gladys Knights & The Pips, Jimi Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, Bill Withers, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, George Benson, Gil Scott Heron, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Fela Kuti, and Taj Mahal…
It’s like an endless list.
I would go on for 20 minutes and the interview would be over.
So if you had it your way and you could collaborate with anybody who you haven’t collaborated with already, who would be in your dream collaboration?
Of whose left, because obviously we can’t talk about people that are deceased. We have to stay in reality. Bob Dylan. He and I have discussed it. He’s been an acquaintance. I just love him, he’s been gracious enough to spend time with me and he’s just the sweetest guy and he is somebody who … I told him, I said, listen man we’re going to go away we’re going to go to Brazil, the Bahamas, and we’re going to make an album. I want to make an album on you.
You’ve collaborated with Jay-Z and Drake on this album. We loved it when you and Jay collaborated together on “Guns and Roses,” which was one of our favorite songs off The Blueprint 2. What made you link back up with him?
After I cut “Boogie Drop,” I heard his voice. I let the song dictate. I don’t say, ‘Well let me call Drake ’cause Drake is cool right now and let me call Jay, he’s the King.’ It’s all about the music. Whose voice do I hear? And there’s not many songs where I have ever had a rap on it. In fact. There’s only been one, it’s Jay on Baptism, on that album. I don’t know these songs just popped up and I keep listening to them in the studio and I say, ‘Well that’s not a place for a guitar solo. It’s for a rap. I hear spoken word there.’ I let the music tell me what to do.
When did you start playing instruments?
When I was a kid. I started with piano and guitar and then in Junior High, I started with drums & bass.
Did you take formal lessons or did you teach yourself?
I took a few lessons here and there on the guitar, but that’s it, the rest is self taught. And drums! I was in the orchestra, classical drums, percussion. And then I learned drum set on my own. So I’m pretty much self-taught.
You and Zoe are the best father/daughter duo in Hollywood, how is your relationship with Zoe?
She’s my best friend. There’s no one closer to me. In fact I just got a text from her just this second. See … “Landed safe. Love you.” She’s 22 years old, she lets me know every time she travels, when she’s getting on, when she’s getting off, when she arrives, we’re just like that. We’re super, super, super close. Which is how my mother and my grandfather were, so I’ve seen that relationship.
Have you given Zoe any advice for her band’s Elevator Fight?
No. I stay out of it.
What’s your favorite thing to do besides making music?
I love designing, which is my other hobby. I love photography which I do. I love hanging out with people that I’m close to and just hanging out, cooking dinner, laughing. I like simple, good quality time.
What’s your most prized possession?
A material thing?
Yes, we’ll make it material.
That’s a hard one. My most prized possession? I have no idea. I have a lot of cool stuff, but I don’t think of it like that. I have great rock n’ roll memorabilia, I have great art, my Basquiat … maybe my Basquiat is one of my favorite things.
If you were sent to a deserted island and you could only bring 3 albums, what would the 3 albums be?
Oh God. Innervision would have to be one. Wow, it would have to be a Marvin. I’d say What’s Going On? God, three? And wow. It would have to be a Marley or a Hendrix. Which one am I going to go for? Oooooh! I guess I have to have a Hendrix. It’d be Are You Experienced?
Can you tell us something that most people don’t know about you?
That I’m funny. People think I’m really serious.
People just think you’re really cool and super chill.
It’s all a façade, I’m a goofy idiot. (laughs)
What’s your favorite color?
What’s your favorite thing to eat?
Oh. My favorite thing to eat. Wow, that’s hard.
Are you a foodie?
Totally. But Bahamian food is my favorite food. I’d say Italian food too.
What’s been your favorite moment while touring? What’s one that just pops up in your head?
There was a concert that I did in Rio De Janeiro in front of a million people on Copacabana beach, actually the year before The Stones did it. They did it the next year. It was the most incredible spectacle I have ever seen.