Filmmaker - Musician - Photographer

[Plight of] The Black Rocker

Hi.  My name is Q.Ledbetter, and I am a black rocker.

I've been thinking a lot lately about where I fit in the music industry.  As a Black artist I do not do the music that is typically expected of me, and the more I learn about what major music executives want, the more I feel like it could be a problem.  There just aren't too many Black rockers with the amount of acclaim necessary to prove that we exist and we have something to say.  I feel like this is a problem for the Black community and the industry as a whole.

TV on the Radio, in my opinion, is one of the biggest indie rock bands in the country.  Not only are they a force in the genre, but they push the envelope.  All but one of their members are Black males, yet Black people who aren't open to listening to anything besides ass-shaking club hits have no idea they exist.  I feel like this is the fault of an unspoken rule that exists in the Black Community that prohibits us from seeing and achieving beyond what society expects of us.

Lenny Kravitz is a well-known Black Rock artist, but is more known in the Black Community for his dating Lisa Bonet and his willingness to be naked, than his substantial contribution to Rock music (That wasn't an insult).  Jimi Hendrix is known in the Black community as a legend, but his music isn't really championed among us.  Black people know who Jimi Hendrix is, but they don't know what he did for us musically.  The sad part is they don't want to know. 

It would be nice if other Black musicians who make music besides Rap and R&B received more acclaim for pushing the envelope.  Black artists like De'Mar Hamilton of The Plain White T's, Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish are overlooked by their own people.  The Dave Matthews Band is one of, if not thebiggest and most successful bands in the industry and most of the members have been Black musicians (absent LeRoi Moore, who passed away just last year).

An associate of mine once said, "If it don't bump in the club, I don't want o hear it."  When I challenged him on this idiocy he said he can't identify with what a bunch of "white boys" are doing.  This same sentiment echoes in the recesses of the Black mind and it's holding us back from great things.  We have to understand that music has no color, so we should not feel ashamed to want to hear and learn about something outside of what we know.  We have to understand that we can do more than what is expected of us by the media and entertainment executives.  The images that we see of ourselves in rap videos and Vh1 reality shows is not what defines us.  We can be more and we can, once again, set the standard for the rest of the industry.  I am not sure if any of you have noticed, but we're not setting trends anymore.  We're maintaining stereotypes and starting fads.  It's not the same.

In a perfect world Black media outlets would pay more attention to what otherBlack musicians are doing.  In a social utopia, the we would look to ourselves for more than a city anthem, club banger, or seductive music video.  In a more open-minded and socially responsible Black Community, it would not be strange for us to be seen on the streets with a Jazz Master and a mohawk.

Hi.  My name is Q.Ledbetter, and I am a black rocker.

I'll see you soon.

Quincy LedbetterComment