For his ninth album, Lenny Kravitz found much of his inspiration close to home. In fact, the very spirit of BLACK AND WHITE AMERICA came from the locations in which the music was made—from a tiny, 400-person community in the Bahamas to the streets of Paris. And out of his experiences as a true citizen of the planet, his first new songs in three years became the most personal and diverse collection of his career. “No doubt, my environment definitely lends a lot to the creative process,” he says.

Kravitz has repeatedly shown what that process can accomplish. He’s been making records for over twenty years, since his landmark 1989 debut LET LOVE RULE. In that time, he has sold over 35 million albums and won four Grammy awards. But despite these dazzling achievements—or maybe because of them—the singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist’s home in the islands has remained a crucial part of his life. “It’s such a beautiful, isolated place,” says Kravitz, “and it’s a really great, basic existence. You eat out of the garden and the sea, you don’t have shoes or keys, and you know everybody and don’t pass by anyone without acknowledging them.”

While the island, the homeland of his mother’s family, has long been a familiar sanctuary for Kravitz, in the last year he committed to the place in a new way. “I was spending a lot of time alone, and accepting parts of myself that I’ve had some trouble with previously,” he says. “This was the most time I’ve spent down there, and whatever is inside yourself is projected all over—and if there’s things you need to deal with, they come out.”

Fortunately, what emerged was a new level of comfort and clarity with his music. “I dreamt a lot of this music, sleeping in my trailer on the beach,” he says. One morning, he recalls, he “just woke up and ran to the studio and this thing came out”—which turned out to be the ferocious, funk-style groove of “Life Ain’t Ever Been Better Than It Is Now.”

On the soaring, prayer-like piano ballad “Dream,” he sings, “no one can take the dream from your heart.”

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