I've been enjoying my break and this is why I have not posted anything in quite a bit (just in case my few, but appreciated readers wanted to know where I was).
While reading comments from a past post, I was inspired to go into an aspect of this whole 'subculture' thing. An anonymous poster (sorry to call you out) brought up an interesting question. He/she asked why a black girl would be interested in Black metal or even more particularly-what he/she was basically asking-music that draws roots from traditional European instruments as well as having a heavy focus on European folklore, culture, language, etc. I understand the question but it still never ceases to amaze me that black folks are always but into 'the box' and there is no way of getting out of the box even if the people in in consider you out. Let me explain- The box is EVERYTHING that has to do traditionally with black culture-be it African American or just African. The contents of this box is the black community. The dilemma I'm trying to point out is that every other race is given an opportunity to have some wiggle room in the box. I mean that there are Asian b-boys, Latino metal heads, and white folks into reggae all over the world- my point is that this is considered acceptable and normal. But if a black person is into anything outside of that suffocating box it's weird or unique. Why is it strange to take an interest in another culture? Or for that matter, subculture? Tons of people of other races travel and explore this giant planet and listen to different music, eat foods, learn the history and language but we somehow aren't allowed because the media portrays us as not being culturally inclined? Can't I be proud of my nationality and race yet take an interest in the music and culture of another? I think differences are cool and interesting and I've always hated being predictable so I look outside to better understand who I am. I'm not one of those people who hate who they are and where they come from and are desperate to adapt so much to another culture that they become like them or totally slander their own and that's what I seem to get from a lot of people who don't know me or my views. I'm not in denial-I'm just interested. And I refuse to deny what interest me. Whether it fits in your box or not. I think the problem is that everyone else seems to be allowed a sort of individuality in their communities that us black folks aren't allowed because we will ALWAYS be whatever we get labeled or filed under in that box. When will I and the millions of us just be individuals instead of 'that black girl/guy'?
I'm sure everyone, atleast the black people, that visit this blog have gotten this so much that they are tired of hearing it. The termonology used to describe a black person into alternative cultures beside 'black' culture (whatever that is)-'oreo'. Or have heard phrases such as 'You talk/act white', 'you listen to white music' (again whatever that is). You've tried to explain and rexplain why this is or maybe you have gotten to the point, like I have, where your tired of explaining why you cannot be into whatever your into and not be held back by the social or cultural boundaries that bind you to your own. I'll go into that in a much later blog.
This specifically is about an incident that happened to me recently and was acted upon so bluntly that even though its been weeks, I'm still in a bit of shock. I'm involved in theatre in my school and we had a friend of my director's stop by to give us some positve pointers on an upcoming show. So we performed and afterwords he was giving us notes.
I have a solo in this musical we happened to be doing and even though I never asked for it, I got the 'gospel' esque song even though EVERYONE who really knows me-knows that I am anything but gospel-esque. (I have an inkling she gave me the solo because I was black -_-). To make a long story short the guy asks me to come to him and then he says I have something to tell you. So he precedes to whisper in my ear 'You need to be more black' and I was suddenly transported to all my middle school memories of those exact words told slightly by different from various people that have come and gone in my life. I was embarrassed and perplexed. I didn't know what to do so I just laughed and fumed back to my seat where some of the fellow actors had heard and were laughing, completly oblivious to my disdain.
My question is-since when has just being black in general not good enough? Hell, my father is African-isn't that pretty damn well black? I performed the next time around and did the things that they wanted me to do-which was dance while singing, put more 'soul' into it, gyrate, and pratically obtain the 'yes massa' mentality by doing what they wanted for a successful show.
I realized I haven't posted in quite a while so I decided to post today about something I find disturbing (In my experiences). So, recently-whenever I go to shows-if there is another black girl there, I get the up down look then cold treatment. It's very strange to me because whenever I see someone of the same race at shows I always want to compulsively talk to them but then I feel awkward because its the whole 'I'm black-your black' thing that sets me back. But most recently I find other black women at shows to really dislike me or seem to at least and I can't figure out why so I boiled it down to one fact. Apparently there can only be one 'unique' black girl at a concert. I don't so much get this with black guys. I always found it strange because I feel comradery more than anything else and feel that the black female metalhead is such a small community that there needs to be some sense of unity within it-but alas-girls will be girls and we always have to compare ourselves to each other to make up some idiotic sense of self worth to feel good about ourselves. I went to a friends party where I thought I was going to be the only black person there but there was also one other black girl. I was wearing an Opeth shirt that my boyfriend had let me borrow and the girl went up to me and said she dug my shirt. I thanked her and told her it wasn't my own and that my bf had gotten it at a show and she huffed and said she hated me then walked away. I will forever be confused by that. Mind you-that was just one girl but still when I go to concerts I get the silent treatment when I smile at other black females. Has anyone else gotten this feeling of animosity from other black girls at shows? Or is this all in my head?
I've heard a few metal fans ask why there seems to be a lack of ethnic people in metal. Or scratch that-black people. There are the South American metalheads, the Asian metalheads, and all the others inbetween but its obvious which group seems least to be into metal. Have you ever wondered why there isn't any metal festivals in Africa? (besides in Namibia which metal crowd is mostly wealthy white land owners) In general-there aren't many black metal heads. There are even fewer black metalheads who have actually wanted to go into the metal music genre as musicians or singers. I can literally count on my fingers the successful metal bands that have blacks in them. To name the few-Sevendust, (New) Sepultura, Straight Line Stitch, Suffocation, Skindred, Crackdust, Wrust, Living Color. (I wanted to add Bad Brains but they are punk) Now, there are three main reasons why blacks aren't very much found in metal. 1.) Blacks in general are heavily religious. No matter if they're African American or African. I've only met one black atheist and that's a close friend of mine. I'll just be honest, we cling to our religion. Is that bad? No. But metal is typically known throughout the black community as 'devil worshipping music'. Nuff' said. 2.) Blacks are attracted to music other blacks like. Humans are visual creatures. And other humans that look like us that like the type of music we like generally attract other like minded humans. I guarantee if more black people were into metal-it would catch on. I mean, after that song 'Party Like A Rock star' I definitely saw tons of more black people in explore new clothing options as well as music options. People like feeling belonged. 3.) Racism. Bottom Line. Just like you wouldn't find a white person at a N.W.A concert you certainly wouldn't find a black person at a Burzum concert. Metal has a way of excluding people unless your like them. And the other stereotype about metal is that all metalheads are racist-which isn't true but there are a few bad eggs (As in NBSM bands as well as others) that ruin it for the rest of them. Of course there are the exceptions but this is what it comes down to. I hate that it's like this. I would like one day to see a metal festival where there are TONS (not just a few) of black metal heads, as well as Latino, Asian, and White-all together to form one huge brutal moshpit. That would be amazing. That would make metal even more powerful and hopefully people would shed their prejudices. *sigh* A girl can dream, can't she?
I've mentioned before on this blog that I like all types of music including metal. I wouldn't call myself a 'metal head' per se, but I do like listening to it. I guess there are a few reasons why I haven't fully devoted myself to metal and why I'm mostly just a musical sponge that absorbs any type of music just because I love it. Metal mainly turns me away for three key reasons. -it's for men. -Not only men but angry white men. -I'm pretty sure a good bit of metal fans are racist-and aggresive. I suppose this is why I've still never been to a real 'metal concert'. (As well as the reason not alot of black females or black people in general are interested in metal)I've been to tons of concerts but they've mostly been indie rock, alternative, goth/industrial, and avant-garde but never metal because honest to goodness I'm terrified of being heckled and no one defending me or being lynched and raped on the spot. Now, not that I'm stereotyping all metal fans-I did say a few post ago that metal heads can be some of the nicest people-which they can. But men in large groups with aggresive music are dangerous in no matter any environment-its that pack mentality. So naturally, its conflicting. Why do I like a type of music that potentionally doesn't like or appreciates me and would just mock me for liking it. Well, thats why I listen to metal at a distance and only a few people actually know that I listen to alot of the-ahem-heavier stuff. No, I'm not ashamed of anything I listen to-but people already think I'm strange in general so I don't want to add ammunition to their guns. Another issue is that if I really wanted to start a band-or be in a metal band, I suppose all I can expect is the same treatment that any black female in a genre of music that isn't specifically molded for her gets treated. I'll get called either novelty, something 'different', or be labeled 'R&B' anyways even if I don't do that type of music-but just because I'm black. *sigh* Do I belong in the metal world? You tell me.
Most would wonder why a black girl of seveteen would like such an extreme form of music. I don't even know why I started liking it. I remember getting bits and pieces throughout my youth of metal and being scared shitless. Then I realized music and it's message is only harmful if you believe in it (I suppose thats why I can listen to bands like Gorgoroth and not be phased). It's so aggresive and angry-and for someone who generally is non confrontational-it surprises most people. My answer is that metal gave me a voice that I didn't have. The harsh vocals could scream my innermost fears and frustration through the toughtest times of my life. The soft whispering followed by a intricate guitar solo comforted me in my lonliness. Going to my first 'rock' concert (not metal, just rock) and feeling the guitar and drums in my heart made me burn for something faster and aggrestive and when I first moshed-I lost myself.
Of course, it hasn't been easy being a black chick into metal. I've gotten stares, whispering comments, grins and laughts, etc. Other times-I've experienced some of the nicest people I've ever encountered in my life.
I suppose this is why I began to develop a certain preference for men-mainly guys who were artist in some way-it hardly mattered if they were into poetry/writing, playing an instrument, painting-but I especially grew attracted to the ones that I looked up to. Men like Vreth, Jones, King ov Hell-among others. It never really mattered what race they were-just that they were so powerful on stage-giving themselves to a life full of powerful music. And I always liked mysterious men that required peeling to get to the core.
Then when I first heard a woman sing metal-I was hooked. Knowing that a girl could pull off and conduct a crowd of mostly angry men inspired me. I grew tougher, I became more independant, and even tried to develop a 'metal scream' <-to which I haven't yet accomplished but I'm working on it. It sounds more like a dying giraffe but it 'll get better. Then came this utter passion for music in general. In it I found ecstacy. It gave me a way better high than weed ever could. I'm still trying to learn all about music from folk, to hip hop, to the different subgenres of metal and discovering bands that relate to my experience as well as bands that I don't really like but listen to just to retain the knowledge. I don't even think in these few words I covered why I really love metal or just music in general. This blog was meant to solely focus on metal but I also appreciate every other type of music from Neil Young to Erykah Badu. But the point I was trying to make with metal is that its an escapist music for me and after I listen to metal-I feel like that energy was transposed into me. It gave me the power to be whatever I wanted and say whatever I wanted-and with it I could not only keep waking up the next day but I could take over the world. One step at a time. \m/.
*Sigh* I was rooting for you Straight Line Stitch. I want so desperately to really enjoy their music and proudly declare to the world 'I'm a fan of Straight Line Stitch' but...I find that if I think deep down inside-it would be wrong for me to lie to myself. Just as I tried to lie to myself to get into Wicked Wisdom. It's not that SLS is a terrible metal band-no the metalcore is decent enough but, alas, tis' the vocals.
The problem I'm experiencing with many black womem (pfft-more like the three that I know of which includes: SLS, Wicked Wisdom and Roulette) who go into the harsh vocal side of metal is that they try to imitate their angry white male counterparts and it never ends up sounding right. It's really forced and cheesy. This isn't to say that Alexis Brown cannot growl with the best of them, but it seems like if she keeps on forcing the vocals in a few years they'll be shredded up and unusable. Add on to that the awkward R&B sections in songs like 'Remission', and 'Eucharist' its' just...something isn't right. Metal is metal and R&B is R&B. I mean, can you imagine a random death growl in a BB King or Alicia Keys song? Maybe its the mixing or bad recording. Now, some of you might say that diversity in metal is a good thing-whicih I have absolutely no problem with diversity as someone who desperately looks for any faces that resemble her own in this music genre but you have to do it right. Am I highly critical? Yes. Because I know what many of these hardcore heavy metal fans are thinking when they see and hear a band like SLS: -It's gimmicky to have a black person in a metal band -It's gimmicky having a black FEMALE in a metal band -It's gimmicky just for the fact that they are metalcore
And all other assorted judgements. I like a few songs of SLS's like 'Black Veil', 'Faceless and Inhuman', etc. Plus, I would much rather listen to them than that Maria bitch from In This Moment but I just can't really get into them because just like Wicked Wisdom and that myspace band Roulette-there is something off about it. And I'm not saying it's because they're black but maybe because they haven't really listened to enough metal music to really form a vocal style unique to themselves. Never the less, I'm rooting for you Straight Line Stitch and I hope you make it big. There will probaly be a part two to this entry or a whole 'Women in Metal' post in the future. (By the way, when searching for this picture I tried to find the most ethnic picture of her, being as all the rest of the professionally done pictures seemed to lighten her skin -_-)
In the past I've tried to do so many internet blogging/networking sights but I've never been really consistent with any one as I lose interest, forget my password, or even forget to post. It scares me to think of all the personal information and blogs I've put on the internet but I decided to try one last time at blogging. Some how, I have the audacity to believe my opinion and thoughts are important to the world. But I do believe in the power of such websites as this.
I need an outlet-a place where I can share my thoughts on what I deem necessary and interesting.
So, I decided to make a blog on a specific aspect of my life as well as possibly many other lives-Heavy Metal. But I vowed this wouldn't be like the other blogs about such a topic praising guitar licks and sacrificial lamb heads at a black metal concert (Although I'm sure it will be sprinkled in here sometime). This would be about the ever so rare black perspective on heavy metal culture-a microcosm within the rock'n'roll culture. Even more obscure the female perspective. I'm not necessarily doing this so people can read it-but more so for my own sanity.
I'm pretty sure black folks in heavy metal is an oxymoron of sorts. Almost something of a myth like the Boogieman or Bigfoot. But trust me, we do exsist and I'm here to confirm that.