From The BVX — Like hip-hop, hardcore punk’s roots are steeped in rebellion and limited resources. But unlike hip-hop, the audience and its performers are predominately white. However, theBVX knows that brown folks had a hand in this culture so we’re shining a light on the most notable minorities in the hardcore punk rock movement.
Until they saw an Alice Cooper show in 1973, the Hackney brothers, Bobby, David and Dannis, were just another aspiring R&B group in Detroit. But something about Cooper’s show resonated with them and soon, under the moniker Death, they began playing punk. One problem, punk didn’t exist yet. The unheralded godfathers of the genre, Death gigged locally and recorded an album’s worth of material and released the independent single “Politicians in My Eyes,” but never dropped an LP. Thirty years after disbanding, their music can be heard on the recently, “For the Whole World to See” (Drag City Records).
2. Bad Brains
If punk rock was the antithesis of society’s norm, then Washington D.C.’s Bad Brains was the opposite of whatever held up punk’s parameters. Comprised of an all-Black Rastafarian line-up, the band’s eponymous 1982 debut – which is only 33 minutes long – blended reggae and punk and subsequently laid the foundation for hardcore music. Bad Brains would go on to influence everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mos Def, and the Beastie Boys.
3. Inside Out
The East Coast dominated most of the hardcore punk scene in the late 1980’s and early 1990s, but California’s Inside Out made a name for itself amongst its peers with the EP “No Spiritual Surrender” (Revelation) and gained notoriety by touring with hardcore favorites Quicksand and Shelter. Fronted by Chicano singer Zack de la Rocha, Inside Out split before the release of its second album “Rage Against the Machine,” which would go to be the name of de la Rocha’s widely popular next band.
4. Mikey Dread
A pioneer in radio broadcasting, Jamaican deejay Mikey Dread recorded several top 10 reggae singles in 1978, before he collaborated with The Clash. Dread would prove to be monumentally influential on the band’s 1980 triple-album “Sandanista!,” where he was featured on vocals and produced an eerie version of the song “One More Time” entitled “One More Dub.” “Sandanista!” became The Clash’s most polarizing album, but also foreshadowed the rock-rap-reggae-jazz mashups that would come years after its release.
Fronted by Mexican-American rapper/singer Rey Oropeza, Los Angeles’ Downset was a progressive hardcore punk band that blended metal and funk. The band’s song topics ranged from police brutality to skateboarding as well as graffiti and social injustice, as heard on its self-titled 1994 debut. Downset cultivated a core following throughout the 1990s, touring with Metallica and Linkin Park. After several lineup changes, the Downset broke up in 2009.
6. Living Colour
Formed in 1983 and fueled by guitarist Vernon Reid’s infectious riffs, Living Colour paved the way for Black musicians in the prominent hard rock scene. Politically charged and extremely critical of racism in America, the band nabbed a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1989 for single “Cult of Personality” from its debut album “Vivid.” Over its run, Living Colour broke up and reunited several times. The band released its fifth studio album “The Chain in the Doorway” in 2009.