In his pursuit to be a rock musician, Lenny shopped his music around to many record companies,

but each record company told Lenny his music was not white enough or black enough. In Lenny’s

BioRhytym on MTV, Lenny said he would have been given a record contract if only he changed the

sound of his music to suit a black audience. But every time he received an offer for a recording contract if

he changed his music style, Lenny turned down the offers because playing rhythm and blues and other

[typical] forms of black music was not for him. He just wanted to play rock ‘n’ roll. [In the
Lenny Live

concert documentary], Lenny commenting on his style of music said; “when I’m making music, I’m

thinking about music. I’m not thinking about black, white, I want to express myself.” Lenny only wanted to

play rock ‘n’ roll music for anyone who would listen. Virgin Records listened and signed Lenny to a

recording contract in 1987.

        In 1989 Kravitz's debut album,
Let Love Rule, "proved to be a surprise hit due to the success of the

title track, which became a hit single and oft-aired video. A few critics were quick to assume that

Kravitz's retro look and sound were simply a shtick to get the public's attention, but come the '90s, it had

become integrated into the mainstream (both musically and fashion-wise), proving that Kravitz was a bit

of a trendsetter. It was around this time that Kravitz penned a major hit single, not for himself but for

Madonna, who went to number one with the sultry track "Justify My Love."
[However criticism continued to

follow and plague Lenny's music efforts. For example the title track “Let Love Rule” on this album was

compared to a type of song The Beatles would sing.

        To add even more fuel to the fire, "
what should have been a time of happiness for Kravitz [the

launch of his music career and birth of daughter Zoe in 1988] quickly turned sour as he and [Lisa] Bonet

divorced by the early '90s. Kravitz's heartbreak was very evident in his sophomore effort,
Mama Said,

which was even stronger than its predecessor, highlighted by the Led [Zeppelin]-like funk rocker "Always

on the Run" (a collaboration with Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash), as well as the mega hit with the Curtis

Mayfield-esque soul ballad "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over," which confirmed that Kravitz's success was no

fluke. But the best was yet to come for Kravitz. His third release overall, 1993's
Are You Gonna Go My

, is often considered to be the finest album front to back of his entire career, and with good reason:

Every single song was a winner, including the up-tempo anthemic title track, "Are You Gonna Go My Way"

which turned out to be one of MTV's most played videos for that year. The album was a massive hit and

Kravitz became an arena headliner stateside, as well as being featured on countless magazine covers.

        [Despite the height
Are You Gonna Go My Way brought him], Lenny was quickly brought back

down by critics with his fourth album,
Circus (1995). Lenny’s song “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead” was heard as  

sampling Led Zeppelin's song “Rock 'n' Roll.” Lenny, no matter how hard he tries, cannot escape his

label as being a retro and a copycat artist, even though he was the first black man to ever win a Grammy

award in the rock music category. Lenny won his first Grammy award for “Fly Away” in 1999, followed by

“American Woman” in 2000, “Again” in 2001, and “Dig In” in 2002.

        Lenny is also labeled as being a funk music artist because he sometimes combines rhythm and

blues, and rock 'n' roll sounds together on his songs to make his songs funky. People who label Lenny as

being only a funk artist categorize his music by listening to one or two of his songs, if any. If people hear

every song that Lenny has made, they will realize that Lenny is

one of the preeminent rock musicians of our time. [He] is an

icon whose bold, channeling sound has transcended genre,

style, race and class. His music is devastatingly rich with

the influences of '60s and '70s soul, rock and funk, and yet,

each of his [eight] albums have communicated the urgency of their current years. As Lenny

Kravitz's 2000-released triple-platinum GREATEST HITS album proved, those songs have resonated

onward into a timeless catalog...Kravitz's music is robust and driven by an emotional core that

materializes in soulful riffs and soaring vocals.

        Lenny appeared in Jimi Hendrix’s Live at the Fillmore East documentary referring to how blacks

still have a hard time being rock 'n' roll artists. [On this subject] Lenny said, “It still is difficult to be a black

man and play rock 'n' roll...[Furthermore] It is interesting there have only been a small handful of black

rock 'n' roll performers in my time period. Being a black musician in rock 'n' roll is very strange that it is a

rarity today because rock 'n' roll is a black art form.” Due to radio stations’ programming [constraints],

Lenny’s brand of rock music had no choice but to be [played on rock and alternative] radio stations

because his music was not made for black [R&B and hip hop] radio stations.

        Furthermore, Lenny is faced with the reality that many black people do not buy his albums nor

attend his concerts. When I went to Lenny’s concert in August 2002, I was one of the few blacks in the

audience as compared to the [overwhelming percentage of non-minorities] in the audience. The same

goes for Lenny's Seattle and San Francisco concerts. In
Live at the Fillmore East, Lenny commenting on

how Jimi Hendrix did not have a noticeable black concert audience said, “Brothers [black men] doing

different stuff, takes brothers and sisters [black women] years to get to rock.”
Text Guide

Teal text comes from (

Chartreuse text comes from (

White text comes from Shalondra Brown's, From Black To White, Crossing Over in Music

Lenny Kravitz Band From Left To Right; Craig Ross (Guitarist), Cindy Blackman (Drummer), Lenny Kravitz (Frontman), Jeff Black (Bassist)