Listen, if you’re really down with hip-hop you’re down with all musics because hip-hop can take the wackest songs and make 'em better. Me? I was always that black dude who was down with rock, even when it wasn’t popular to be a black dude who was into rock. I remember dudes in my 'hood used to throw 40s of OE at me when I rolled down the hill past 8th street, the open air crack market adjacent to the Astoria Projects. Back then, I had Jimi Hendrix to rep. My sister had a copy of his Smash Hits record and I used to sneak into her room and play it while she washed the dishes. (She also had Foreigner records, and I recall the tune “Dirty White Boy” being in heavy rotation. But I digress.) Years later, circa 1986, I became friends with a brother Named Chaka Malik Harris, a fellow graffiti writer (EXPO) and black dude who was into rock - only he was deep into rock on some other levels.
Chaka took me to a spot called the Lismor Lounge on the Lower East Side and the first band I saw was called Bugout Society . I guess they were like a latter day, wanna be Beastie Boys; they had a song called “Lees and Pumas” and they were throwing White Castle hamburgers into the crowd of Caucasians who pogo-ed in this nasty, rust-smelling basement. I was like, “What part of the game is THIS?!” Chaka would go on to make a hardcore mix tape for me and there was one band that stood out. So I asked him who they were and he was like, “Bad Brains. And yo: they’re black!” Say word?!
Bad Brains made me feel like the original man had this rock shit 'pon lock. Bad Brains gave me the confidence to go out there and fearlessly mosh it up as one of the few Black Dots on the New York hardcore scene. Funny thing is, in 2011, I find myself in a band with Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer and West-Coast rhyme animal Murs (more on that in future posts). But the whole point of writing all of this is really to hip you to three black bands that I think you need to be up on, word to mother: Black Sabbath, Black Flag and the Black Keys. When it comes to rock n' roll, when you bet on black you win big.
I. Black Sabbath, Live in Paris, 1970. This shit is hard and FUNKY. Bill and GZR make the ill rhythm section and Tony, who has pieces of is fingers cut off in a factory accident, KILL SHIT!
II. Ozzy singing his heart out about COCAINE! SNOOWWWWWBLIIIINDDDD!
Plus his jumpsuit is just ILLmatic.
III. "Into the Void" - the blueprint for Pantera.
IV. Black Keys in the buff.
V. My man Patrick be hittin’ them skins.
VI. Shoutout to Grimey’s Records…
VII. Black Flag's Henry Rollins showing his blackhand side.
VIII. Black Flag keeps it gully on local news.