"You expect white supremacy, but not from your own people": Living Colour claim they've been shunned by black entertainment outlets for playing "white people" music

Living Colour
(Image credit: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images)

Living Colour have issued a statement expressing their dismay at their belief that they have been shunned and dismissed by key players in the Black entertainment industry for playing rock music, which has been categorised as "white people" music.

The New York band posted their statement on Instagram following online discourse generated in the aftermath of a recent interview which Lenny Kravitz gave to Esquire magazine, during which the musician suggested that he had been deliberately overlooked at awards shows staged by Black entertainment outlets. In the interview, Kravitz stated, "To this day, I have not been invited to a BET thing or a Source Awards thing. And it’s like, here is a Black artist who has reintroduced many Black art forms, who has broken down barriers—just like those that came before me broke down. That is positive. And they don’t have anything to say about it?"

Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover references Kravitz's comments at the beginning of his own post, which begins, "It’s come to my attention that people responded to Lenny Kravitz’s statement, that black organizations in the entertainment industry never really sought him out. Retorting that they did make effort to contact him but his “people“ said that Mr. Kravitz had no interest. That is false. Whether his people made that statement, I cannot say. Living Colour throughout has made a conscious effort to make ourselves available to places like BET, the Source etc. Mind you this was happening simultaneously to us in the rock idiom."

Glover's statement continues, "Their response to us usually was that we did not fit in their format. Ironic, that was the same response we got from the Rock n roll / white entertainment organizations."

"Celebrating diversity in the entertainment field doesn’t start with the blues and ends with hip-hop. There have been expressions in between. George Clinton Parliament/Funkadelic, Fishbone, Tracy Chapman, Meshell Ndegeocello; even though there has been glancing acceptance of someone like Jimi Hendrix, rocks influence on the diaspora, has very rarely acknowledged.

"Lenny was right," says Glover. "None of us has been awarded let alone acknowledged for our achievements. Living Colour in the past has worked with such historical luminaries as Little Richard and Mick Jagger. We’ve worked with a hip-hop royalty from Queen Latifah, Doug E Fresh, Chuck D & Flava Flav to Run DMC. And yet there’s barely a mention of rocks contribution to what is modern black music, let alone in rock and roll circles.

"It’s been our experience that most people of color have no idea how deep and far reaching the influence of Black people in the modern-day rock ‘n’ roll there are, let alone it’s impact on R&B and hip hop. What we hear is “that’s white people stuff” when in fact, it is not!"

Glover rounds off his statement by writing, "It’s hard enough to live in places where you expect white supremacy, but not from your own people."

Living Colour are currently on tour in Europe, mixing headline shows with dates supporting Extreme.

Lenny Kravitz has also issued a statement, clarifying that his comments in the Esquire article were not an attack upon 'Black media' or the 'Black community'.

"It is important to me to set the record straight on recent media reports based on an interview I did," Kravitz says. "My Black musical heritage means a lot to me, and I owe my success to my supporters who have taken this journey with me over the span of my career.

"The comment I made was not about ‘Black media’ or the ‘Black community.’ I was specifically referring to Black award shows in particular.

"Rock and Roll is the music we were instrumental in creating and is a part of our history,” he adds. "We must retain our heritage and celebrate that together."

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.