I like to think of rock 'n' roll as an infant abruptly taken away from its biological parents shortly after birth. I know, not a warm and fuzzy mental image. Hang with me here. One day that child (let's call him Rock) returns, all grown up, gently knocks and when his parents open the door instead of a warm embrace their child hears...who are you? In some imaginary scenarios Rock gets his ass kicked. His parents call the cops on him. You know, the whole "GTF" outta here treatment. Heartbreaking huh? I know! Well, that is how I see today’s relationship between rock music and the African American community. So many years of separation, decades, and culturally speaking most African Americans just don't recognize what their musical foreparents created.

 Art by  Rasul Madyun

          I gotta say that has long been my personal axe to grind. I was that rock kid raised in a predominantly African American community and when I fell in love with rock ‘n’ roll and brought it home, in me, people just didn’t recognize a brotha. However the music, the attitude and the energy, felt so natural to me. I sensed that there was something more to this natural connection. So I did a little research. It didn’t take much. I instantly found Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Muddy Waters, and Fats Domino. Then I researched some Jimi Hendrix and found he wrestled with some of these same awkward vibes aimed toward him by the African American music loving community of his day. Wow? I was like, dang! If Jimi, the god of rock, got the WTF are you doing from his peeps then what chance do the rest of us rock ‘n’ roll brothas and sistas have? It didn’t help that while rock was being held hostage, the music was simultaneously the victim of cultural identity theft. A whole genre of music worth ungodly amounts of money was developed and marketed on a global scale while the African Americans who gave birth to it sat on the sidelines kind of watching it all happen. What could they do? Generally speaking only a few recognized value in the art form. Most Black folks were content if not distracted by the legendary R&B, Soul and Funk music being created from the community during the same time period to even notice they were being robbed. All that history is there. It’s no secret! Just google “race music” and “race records” you will find multiple sources chronicling the deculturalization of rock ‘n’ roll from the black people who created it.

            Let’s fast forward to today. Here we find ourselves in the midst of the rise of something called “black alternative music." What is that? Is it rock? Yes! Punk? Yes! Is it funky? Yes! Is it bluesy? Uh-huh! Is it jazz? You can say that. It’s all of that and then some. Black alternative music transcends genres. The music covers it all because the people who create it cover it all. They come from all walks of life and they all bring their unique perspectives to the music. That is a huge part of what makes it alternative. Alternative to what? The music is an alternative to the current mainstream music produced by popular African American artists. It’s just that simple! It's really hard to find something different happening on traditional airwaves. Not to worry! The musical void is now being filled by super talented and musically creative black alternative artists right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Folks are out here doing it! They are here to give us all a choice. They are here to give us all a creative musical option. Options are good. Good options are better! That's wassup with Axe to Grind.

     Axe to Grind is home for black alternative artists, bands and musicians. This is a place where you will find the most beautiful, creative, talented and cutting edge artists doing whatever the hell they want to do. No holds barred! No questions asked, just freedom of expression on an unlimited musical scale. That is what is happening here at Axe to Grind. Sounds cool, right? We are talking about the musical descendants of the creators of rock ‘n’ roll here in the SF Bay Area, coming together to support one another, share creativity and produce the next new musical energy bound to inspire the world. Too big? We don’t think so! Hey if nothing else we will be able to say here at Axe to Grind, the inspiration of reconnecting rock “n” roll with the African American community has been reinvigorated with hopes of the inevitable family reunion... just a power chord away.


Founder of Axe To Grind