How Was It Getting Into Metal in a Black Household.

( Running into fellow Black metalheads is always a surprise and a pleasure. It’s not so much that there are so few of us—we are legion—but actually coming across another Black person who enjoys the Sound of the Beast in person or even online can be a chance encounter.

How Was It Getting Into Metal in a Black Household.

My parents weren’t metalheads although they have heard it before. Both leaned more towards hard rock—the classic stuff that plays on your local Rock or The Eagle stations in U.S. You know, before it’s time to get the Led out. My father enjoyed Zappa, AC/DC, and actually rocked with Sir Elton John. Meanwhile, my mother enjoyed some Heart, Journey, and—as she got older—appreciated Maroon 5, Matchbox Twenty, and so on.

They both enjoyed Aerosmith and Blondie.


Growing Up with Black Rock Fans as Parents

Between the two, my father was the one who played rock music in the house regularly. He’d sit in the den, working on some car part or whatever behind the bar while playing blues and hard rock on the den’s radio or 8-track player.

The den was usually thick with cigarette smoke and seemed like a hole-in-the-wall spot—only with AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap playing. He often wouldn’t allow us in the den when he was chilling and that’s either because of the nature of the music or that he was smoking—or both.

My parents were very adamant that we grew up happy but not troublesome. I remember that my mother didn’t allow us to say n***a in the house even though we were in high school and heard from our peers and even a few teachers to the point where it was normal.

Eventually, she would relent when we got older only for us to find out that she used it fairly regularly as well. One thing she didn’t play about was the rock music of the late 90s and early 00s.

20/20 and Satanic Concern

Now, I use “Satanic concern” because by the late 90s, the whole Satanic panic thing of the 70s and 80s was fading into the 90s. It still had sturdy roots throughout the South and there was very much a concern that edgier music such as gangsta rap and metal—at that time replaced with MTV’s nu-metal and aggressive rock—was making teenagers angrier and disruptive.

My mom wasn’t a fan of it in her house but didn’t discourage it. However, she viewed it in the more stereotypical sense of it being “Kill your mom, kill your dad” music. Also, older Black parents—especially ones raised in the church or who attended church—can be a bit superstitious at times and overly moral at others.

Now I’m not saying this wasn’t a lyrical theme or lyrics in some artist’s or band’s tunes in the late 90s and early 00s but I wasn’t listening to that kind of stuff. I will admit that a lot of what I listened to was on the angsty, violent end.

Hell, a lot of the metal I listen to now is either aggressive or violent in some way. What can I say? I like excitement in my music. I won’t lie, if she had been more strict, we probably would’ve been stuck with just gospel, pop and R&B in the house which would’ve been—yeah.

At any rate, it didn’t take long for her to accept that we all liked different music just play it in a headset or something. As a parent, she just didn’t want us reenacting what we heard or taking it as a way to live. Considering what I listened to at the time—that wasn’t happening. Lots of Slipknot, Insane Clown Posse, Three 6 Mafia, and Slayer throughout high school.

It’s just that at that time, there was a lot of stuff on television that would warn parents about “sullen, disinterested teens” and so on. It’s a mindset that persists 20 years later. I recently listened to an episode of the Snapped podcast and a case about a juggalette who killed her husband featured a detective or lawyer who noted that juggalos—the fans of the Insane Clown Posse and similar/related artists—were a gang.

Now, some juggalos are definitely involved in gang activity but the entire fanbase? It’s 2023. That’s like saying all metalheads, punks, or stoners are degenerates. That’s definitely a wide paintbrush being used on a fanbase or scene.

How did your parents handle your love or enjoyment of metal music or other music that wasn’t played in the house regularly? Share your story below and let us know what you listened to exactly at that time—genres or artists.

Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.