We’re kicking off Black & Punk, idobi’s celebration of Black History Month, with the one and only HR of Bad Brains. HR, which stands for Human Rights, is the lead singer of one of the most legendary and influential rock bands in music history. While the band now steers away from labeling their music as punk or hardcore, as they display a variety of genre defying elements, their music defined and led the entire movement of music we call “Punk Rock”.
Bad Brains’ elevated mastery of musicianship, lyrics that aspired to close the racial divide, and their cultivation of ‘that PMA*’ fortified the roots of the east coast punk & hardcore community—all of this while gaining the band worldwide recognition. Their music is required listening for anyone who loves punk music or aspires to personal greatness. HR especially has exhibited his abilities not only in multiple musical genres but also artistic mediums. The now 64 year old continues to record music that reaches across divisionary labels; be they musical or social. He also performs for crowds eager to bear witness to musical greatness, and he is a refreshing source of positivity. His painting and visual art collaborations are available through his website and sometimes appear at carefully curated art shows across the country.
Off stage HR is pleasant and sincere, a legend who seeks not to own every room he walks into but to better it. In 2014, when he played a small venue in Washington, DC, he commented on the art and the vibe; where other bands are oftentimes more concerned with creature comforts. His kind conversation and gentle presence made clear that he is still maintaining his *‘Positive Mental Attitude’ and leading generations of punks after 40 years.