Advertisement
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)

TOP 20: TAYLOR TIME
A record that's breaking records (4/24a)
VMAs BEAMING BACK
TO THE BIG APPLE
Getting back to where they once belonged (4/24a)
THE COUNT: ALL THE DESERT'S A STAGE
Jon Wayne is rolling over in his grave. (4/24a)
 A CHORUS OF PRAISE: IVORS 2024 NOMS
Action across the pond (4/24a)
GONE COUNTRY: HOUSE LIPMAN INVESTS IN WESTERN WEAR
The full Monte (4/24a)
THE NEW UMG
Gosh, we hope there are more press releases.
TIKTOK BANNED!
Unless the Senate manages to make this whole thing go away, that is.
THE NEW HUGE COUNTRY ACT
No, not that one.
TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN PLAYLIST
Now 100% unlicensed!
THE B-SIDE
LENNY KRAVITZ: GOING BLUE
3/22/24

Interview by Keith Murphy

There was a time during Lenny Kravitz’s musical odyssey, going back to his unapologetic, throwback 1989 rock and roll declaration Let Love Rule, that he was routinely dismissed by the music critic intelligentsia. They called his earnest work too on-the-sleeve, too derivative. Kravitz ignored such talk on his way to selling over 40 million albums.

Thirty-five years later, the 59-year-old is in an unusually introspective mood with the recent release of his 12th studio album Blue Electric Light (Roxie Records), an electro-inspired collection that walks the line between ‘80s new wave rock and a love letter to his late friend Prince’s early Minneapolis Sound.

“I’ve always looked forward,” says the laidback multi-instrumentalist when asked about the current love fest embracing the four-time Grammy winner and perpetual thirst trap, who was recently nominated for the 2024 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “It’s weird. I’m actually enjoying smelling the roses right now.”

HITS caught up with Kravitz to discuss his new album, his legacy and what it was like growing up around Black greatness.

There’s a very synth-heavy, electro drum energy on Blue Electric Light on songs like “Let It Ride,” “Spirit In My Heart,” “Heaven” and especially on the title track. What specifically drove you to that particular sound?

I had just written this book Let Love Rule that came out during the pandemic. I was talking about my teenage years in a lot of interviews. Maybe that had something to do with how [Blue Electric Light] all transpired. I describe this album as being the record that I would have made in high school if my record came out back then.

I recall the last time we spoke you told me about the treatment your faced from a record executive who told you to get rid of your guitar because he didn’t believe that a Black artist should not be playing rock and roll. Did you receive similar pushback from other labels?

They were all pretty much on that page. Not until I met my folks at Virgin Records who signed me, no one really got it. You are a Black artist. This is what Black people do. Listen to the radio and listen to the charts and go find your way to fit into that. It made no sense to me.

Give me some of your favorite studio stories. I know you have some wild tales about working with Slash on 1991’s “Always on the Run.”

Guns N’ Roses were at the row in front of me at the American Music Awards, and I’m looking at Slash like, I know this guy. So we started talking and I realized, “Yo, we went to high school together!” We exchanged phone numbers and became friendly. Right when the Guns N’ Roses tour ended, he jumped on the Concord in London and ended up at my house at 8:30 in the morning. We went into the studio and did “Always On The Run.” He played his rock guitar riff and I played opposite my funk guitar riff. Insane.

You are gearing up for your next trek on the Blue Electric Light tour this coming June. Can you give us your funniest Spinal Tap tour moment?

You know the scene where the band is coming from backstage and they can’t find the damn stage? That actual Spinal Tap scene happened to us. We couldn’t believe that sh-t. We were like, “Okay, let’s go upstairs through this other door…” Nope, that ain’t it. We were looking for that stage for like 15 minutes (laughs).

Yourself and Mariah Carey were celebrated by the Black Music Collective this past February during the Recording Academy Honors, where you both received the Global Impact Award. What did that moment mean for you to be given such an award?

I’m grateful. The fact that we were both acknowledged [by our own people] was beautiful. It was surreal because Mariah and myself started together. We were hanging out with the same group of friends on the Upper West Side in New York. I knew Mariah as the girl coming over with her demo tapes playing them for us.

Another surreal moment for you has to be earning a nomination for the 2024 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Again, I think about how the time has gone by. How has this happened? I’m still here, still making music, still relevant, still hungry, and grateful, not jaded. And to be mentioned with all these great artists that have done extraordinary things, it’s an honor.

Your mother had some pretty legendary, history-making friends. What was it like coming up in an environment in which jazz legends like Duke Ellington would come over?

I grew up around so many Black pioneers: writers, actors, painters, sculptors, musicians, doctors, and scientists. Because Black folks had to stick together and support one other, my mom (the late actress Roxie Roker of the landmark sitcom The Jeffersons) and her group made sure I was in the middle of it. As a child, I’m around all these great people like Duke Ellington, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni and Ella Fitzgerald.

That’s a hell of a Black support system.

Right. I’m witnessing their greatness and strength, and all of this artistic stuff and at the same time I’m witnessing them fight for Civil Rights. What an extraordinary time to grow up in. So yeah, Black history to me is my life.