Lenny Kravitz says his new album, “Black and White America,” is a particularly personal entry in his 20-year catalog.
“It’s my life,” Kravitz — the son of a black actress, Roxie Roker, and a white television producer, Sy Kravitz — tells Billboard.com. “I grew up in an environment where I was in between a so-called black and white world. My life has always been about contrasts, and it reflects on not only my life and what I’ve gone through with my parents and what I saw growing up, but also where we are now as far as this country, and accepting these kind of changes where we now have an African-American president.
“All the records are personal,” Kravitz adds, “so I can’t say this one is more personal than the others, but I think it tells more of my story. I think it’ll give people a little more insight into me and my life.”
Kravitz started recording “Black and White America” — which is due out this summer — during mid-2009 in the Bahamas. He produced and played most of the instruments, bringing in his regular guitarist Craig Ross and a horn section that includes New Orleans’ Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews on trombone and trumpet. A release date and first single are still being determined.
Kravitz describes the 12-song set as “very up — probably the most up album I’ve done. It’s really well-rounded as far as where my influences come from, why I love music and what I grew up listening to. This one really runs the spectrum from rock to funk to pop to R&B to jazz to blues…it’s really raw.” Kravitz says it also makes greater use of synthesizers than he has in the past, tapping into a collection of vintage instruments that he’s collected over the years.
Fans are already hearing the song “Come On Get It,” which being used in an NBA promotion with Turner Broadcasting. A version of the track is available at NBA.com and at Kravitz’s website, and Kravitz, who resides in Miami and is a Heat fan, will perform at the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday.
“I wasn’t thinking about any sort of affiliation or anything,” Kravitz says, “but they heard the song and said, ‘This is perfect for our season and we’d like to use it.’ I’m always careful with those kinds of things, but when I got the footage back it was so dynamic and it worked really well with the music.”
Other highlights on the album include the “old school R&B/funk/pop jam” “Super Love,” the grooving “Booty Pop” — which was inspired by a dance night at a restaurant Kravitz frequents in the Bahamas — and the ballad “Dream.”
Kravitz is planning “a very big world tour that’ll go for a couple of years” to promote “Black and White America,” and some time during the year he’ll also roll out a 20th anniversary edition of his sophomore album, “Mama Said,” much like he did for his 1989 debut “Let Love Rule.”
“Black and White America” also marks Kravitz’s move to Roadrunner/Atlantic, after being with Virgin since “Let Love Rule.” “The time came for a change,” Kravitz explains, adding that his new label “feels like it did 20 years ago when I got signed. It’s got an old school feeling. These guys feel like they have their feet on the ground, and I haven’t had that feeling in a long time. So it feels good, and I believe we’re going to have a lot of success together.”