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Why Are There so Few African-Americans in Metal?

Why Are There so Few African-Americans in Metal?

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Published by Funk Gumbo Radio
Why Are There so Few African-Americans in Metal?

By Nicholas Pell Fri., Dec. 21 2012 - LA Weekly
Why Are There so Few African-Americans in Metal?

By Nicholas Pell Fri., Dec. 21 2012 - LA Weekly

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Published by: Funk Gumbo Radio on Feb 06, 2013
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11/02/2013

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Why Are There so Few African-Americans in Metal?ByNicholas PellFri., Dec. 21 2012 at 9:25 AM
Anne Jakobsen
Long Beach-based metal band Hirax has a unique sound, blending the galloping beats of the new wave of British heavy metal with the intensity of thrash. Katon W. De Pena'soperatic and aggressive vocals lead the way. Since 1984 De Pena, who is 49, has fronted thelegendary thrashers.
 He's also part of an elite club: metal bands with black singers. He's not entirely alone --Jimi Hendrix and Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy blazed trails, and today we have Byron Davidof God Forbid and Howard Jones, formerly of Killswitch Engage. And, of course, the late'80s gave us Living Colour.Though Latinos are common in metal, African-Americans are not. Why is that?"These are questions that need to be asked," De Pena says, adding that although he's neverfelt excluded, he's felt "misunderstood by other black folks. You get looked at differently if you're black and into metal. I still get that today."He believes many listen at home but are wary of stepping into the scene either because of misconceptions about metal fans or peer pressure -- hip-hop continues to reign supreme,after all. "There are tons of black kids who love metal, but they think that there won't beany other black kids there and they won't be accepted."
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He believes their anxieties are misplaced, however. "I think if black people went to shows,they'd be stoked. It's not like what people hear about on talk shows." De Pena believesmetalheads to be an open-minded and accepting bunch. "People come from all religiousbackgrounds, skin tones and hair lengths. I was more accepted because we're all outcastsand misfits."For what it's worth, De Pena himself was taken aback by the metal scene while cutting histeeth. "I saw Motörhead on their first U.S. tour and it blew my fucking head off," he says,"but it was kind of unnerving. When you see something that intense for the first time, it's aweird feeling." Nonetheless, he was quickly drawn to both the music and subculture of metal.Apparently the metal scenes internationally tend to be more diverse. "The bulk of ourshows are overseas," he says, "In South America you notice a lot more black people. Even Iwas surprised."And things have changed since the days when Hirax was formed, albeit slowly. "It used tobe me and two other black guys. Now it's a couple dozen," he says."I'm very proud to lay groundwork for guys who will follow me in the future," he adds.But it's not clear that he's talking about race anymore; De Pena is, over and above otheridentities, a metalhead. "The thing that attracted me to metal is that I felt more at homethere than anywhere else. [It's] important for people to know they'll be welcomed in."
 Hirax plays the  Key Club  tomorrow, Dec. 22.
 
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3Comments Sort:Newest|Oldest funkgumbo5ptsJan 18, 2013Jipali, you should read this great Spin article called Red Menace which is about Exreme Metal in Cuba.Maybe that will help you learn more about Hispanics in metal...Money Train with Funk Gumbo Radiohttp://www.spin.com/articles/red-menace-inside-hidden-world-extreme-cuban-metalShareFlagLikeReplyfunkgumbo5ptsJan 18, 2013And Funk Gumbo Radio also plays artists and bands like Janelle Monae, Prince, The Skins, Radkey,Divinity Roxx, The FountNHead, Baby Baby, Skindred, Noiseaux, Alabama Shakes, Praise The Dead, JimiHendrix, Ben Harper, Vintage Trouble, Slash, Lenny Kravitz, Death Grips, Nneka, Rise of Saturn, CarolinaChocolate Drops, Pure Hell, Thin Lizzy, and many others.The links to our Funk Gumbo Radio station and Pinterest board are below:http://www.live365.com/stations/sirhobsonhttp://pinterest.com/funkgumboradio/artists-bands-on-funk-gumbo-radio/ShareFlagLikeReply
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