Review Summary: The Boongie drops.
From its ill-advised working title – Negrophilia
(!!!) – to its egregiously bloated tracklist, everything about Black and White America
seems like an exercise in bad judgment. In an age of online file-sharing and Internet-driven buzz, where everyone is either hopelessly brainwashed by the popular music currently burning up the charts or buried under a surge of indie isolationism/elitism, Kravitz is apparently yet to realize that his core demographic is getting increasingly smaller. To that end, his insistence on producing a “special project” of funk songs seems anachronistic at best, and hilariously misguided at worst.
Truth be told, the nature of the project probably wouldn’t have mattered as much if the songs themselves were any good, but Kravitz’s predilection for writing albums that are only mildly sprinkled with gems – in the fashion of particularly sparse chocolate rice cupcakes – works against him like never before. The album-opening title track may have the benefit of a funky bass line and decently introspective lyrics (“In 1963 my father married a black woman/And when they walked the streets they were in danger,” Kravitz explains), but it is nowhere near powerful enough to launch an album of this size. Elsewhere, “Come On Get It” has Kravitz straining angrily against himself with repeated and energetic exhortations of “Come on! Get it!” (surprise), yet the track never quite manages to get anywhere even mildly interesting.
Yet, the record’s most baffling inclusions are reserved for the tail-end of affairs: “The Faith of a Child” and “Dream” – soppy ballads that both sound like they were inspired directly by the tepid “Cry” and “Don’t Walk Away” off the late Michael Jackson’s Invincible
– only thoroughly emphasize how out-of-touch Kravitz really is with the art of writing a solid and filler-free album. Even a pair of belated appearances from Drake and the throne-watching Jay-Z isn’t enough to rescue Black and White America
from its own disaffectedness. All told, although the entire affair isn’t patently bad
, it succeeds in being so unremarkable that it ends up being instantly disposable. Lenny Kravitz has bottomed out – yet again.