Black People and Heavy Metal

I don’t often talk about my musical tastes so blatantly on this blog, but I was inspired to write this post by one of my regular  commentors, Sapphire Yagami (HI!) who asserted that there weren’t many Black people involved in Metal music or listened to it. I disagreed, saying that most of us probably just don’t tell anyone for fear of being ridiculed by other Black people.

But she did have a point. There’s a contentious relationship between the African American community and Heavy Metal music. I know I got my share of ridicule and side- eye when I told other Black people I enjoyed Motorhead. Once when I was in the library looking over the Rock section, a young Black  man asked me what I was listening to. When I told him I was listening to Anthrax’s Among the Living, I got such a look of contempt from him, that I’ve never forgotten it.

Sapphire asserts that Black people tend to  view Metal as evil or Satanic. This is probably thanks to media stereotypes about the musical style.There are all kinds of Metal just like there’s all kinds of Rap and you’d think Black people would be able to sympathize with another demonized musical style. But this is a good question, that’s been asked before: Why aren’t there any Black people in Heavy Metal music?

http://www.laweekly.com/music/why-are-there-so-few-african-americans-in-metal-4170143

Nevertheless, there are and have been more than a few:http://www.yellmagazine.com/black-history-month-in-heavy-metal-hard-rock/29121/

The Legacy of African-Americans In Hard Rock And Heavy Metal

Artists of today:

The Butcher Babies

http://www.npr.org/2013/01/04/167707991/the-life-and-liberation-of-a-black-female-metal-fan

http://www.people.com/article/unlocking-the-truth-heavy-metal-times-square-street-teen-band-book

My Favorites:

Marilyn Manson – The New Shit

 

Motorhead – Ace of Spades; Killed by Death;  Rock N Roll

 

Skunk Anansie – Selling Jesus

I first heard this song on the soundtrack to the movie Strange Days.This was the first time I’d ever seen a Black woman performing Metal. I hated the movie because it was so badly written, but it did star Angela Basset, as a bad-ass, limousine chauffeur, who kicks ass,  rescues the White male protagonist (Ralph Fiennes), lives to the end of the movie, and gets the guy too.(This soundtrack also introduced me to Deep Forest.)

 

Anthrax – Among the Living

This song was inspired by The Walking Dude from The Stand. Once you make that connection, you can’t unmake it, I’ve found.

 

 

Prince –  Let’s Go Crazy

Prince didn’t just sing love songs and R&B. A lot of Black folks first real introduction to Hard Rock was through Prince. I love just about anything by this artist.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Living Colour

Onyx

Jimi Hendrix

Ice – T

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10 thoughts on “Black People and Heavy Metal

  1. Even Jada Pinkett Smith tried her hand at metal! Along with Killswitch Engage, Living Colour, I really can’t come up with much when it comes to blacks in metal. That being said, bring it on!! Let’s have more please!
    By the way, Korn, System of a down, Marilyn Manson and Rammstein are all what I would consider metal, at least at some point in their careers.🤘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rammstein for sure. Its got the growling voices and industrial noises in it,

      I think System of a Down is like Neo-Metal or something. Less growls, and machinery noises in it.

      Marilyn is Goth, and then later he put out a Glam/Goth Rock combo album which I played the Hell out of for several months afterwards.

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  2. When I was a kid I listened to N.W.A., LL Cool J, Mötley Crüe, Guns N Roses, Madonna, Poison, MC Lyte, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Enigma, Deep Forest, and many other artists. I grew up in a predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhood in the South. My love for anything other than Soul, R&B, and Rap was frequently met with the side-eye, and in school I was teased by being told I “wasn’t Black”, and was even teased by some of my adult relatives, who would refer to me as “weird” due to my music tastes. I think, at least growing up in the environment I did, that those Black people who did like Heavy Metal may have kept it hidden so as to not be victims of ridicule. I mean, I was teased because I like reading BOOKS growing up.

    I refused to allow those negative comments to alter my tastes in music, or rather force me to HIDE my tastes in music, and I proudly listen to EVERYTHING: Russian Pop, J-Pop, J-Rock, K-Pop, C-Pop, Soul, Classical, R&B, Chamber Music, Hip-Hop, etc. I like old country music too, like Patsy Cline and Skeeter Davis, but I agree, not today’s Country music. I’m not feelin’ American Pop right now, given the choices out there 😑, but perhaps someday I’ll come back to it. I it sounds good to me, I’ll listen to eat. My favorite artist is Japanese composer, Yoko Kanno.

    Sidenote: I also purchased the Strange Days soundtrack when it was released, and still own the CD to this day. 😁 I actually think the movie was okay, Angela Bassett and a pre-bald Ralph Fiennes…good stuff!

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  3. I’ve never really believed Heavy Metal was a satanic form of music. Sure some singers might be devil worshipers on the low (lmao, who cares, their souls, their business), but it’s never really been a concern of mine.

    I like whatever music sounds pretty to my ears and while I’m not 100% sure what actually constitute heavy metal, I will say that I only tend to like the mainstream songs because it’s not a genre I pay attention too, unless a song/artist really blows up (kinda like country music).

    I however don’t like the look that comes along with it, the antics, the vibe, and most of the songs sound like pure noise to me, the same way some people say rap is just noise.

    I also heard plenty horror stories about Black people being assaulted at heavy metal concerts and some of their artists always had a racist vibe to me.

    I don’t care who likes metal and I think it’s silly to try to police other people’s taste in music. I dare anybody to say something while I’m getting my life to Turkish music lol. I like music from all over the world and hate some music I’m “supposed to like” like ex Congo music (oh, it’s blasphemy as a West African born and raised not to like that music lmao). Also don’t care for reggae, another blasphemy, and unless you’re super mainstream like the king Marley, prince Yellow Man or French king Blondy, I can’t be bothered.

    So metal heads, help me out here, which of those constitute metal artists because I love their music. Marylin Manson, System of a Down, Rammstein, Korn.

    Either way, rock on!

    Thrash metal can GTFO though.
    lmao, just kidding. Keep it away from my sensitive ears and I’m good lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We are most in agreement here. I will listen to anything with a beat, but I’m still very specific about what I actually like, though. (I have listened to Turkish music. There’s a particular singer I enjoy, but forget her name, right now.)

      Trust me, it gets damned tiring having people trying to police your tastes in music, books, TV shows, all the time. Damn tiring!

      I like to go by my own tastes, and enjoy what I enjoy and I hate the word “should”. That’s not a word I have ever liked anybody saying to me.

      I do draw the line at this new Country stuff. I like old school Country like Hank Williams. Go figure!

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