Black Rock bands and other fantasies: Sacha Jenkins and the White Mandingos

White Mandingos

The White Mandingos: The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill MeThe White Mandingos: The Ghetto is Tryna Kill Me (Fat Beats, 6/11/13)

“Warn a Brotha”

The White Mandingos: “Warn a Brotha”

It’s surprising how many rock groups are born out of people cleaning up the house. Writer and guitarist Sacha Jenkins came across some old music he had written with Bad Brains’ Daryl Jenifer and rapper R.A. the Rugged Man and called up Daryl, saying “This shit sounds really good. Maybe we should pursue it again.” With rapper Murs writing lyrics and some punk stylings, The White Mandingos were born. We talked to Sacha about the name, black rock groups and where we are in “post-racial” America.

ALARM: So Murs and Daryl’s musical background is pretty well known, but what about yourself?

Sacha: I used to publish a magazine called Ego Trip in the nineties and early two-thousands. People were really into what we did. We’d go from publishing a magazine into publishing books. Then I kind of crossed over to television and produced a bunch of stuff for VH1.

Currently, I’m the editorial director of a magazine called Mass Appeal . So I’ve been on the media side of music for a long time but I’ve always played guitar, instruments, programmed beats. As a kid, I was into hip-hop, skateboarding, punk, and Bad Brains were one of my favorite bands. I wound up interviewing Daryl on a couple of occasions, and we became friends.

A:  The band’s name… There’s racial politics involved, everything from Mandingo to Django Unchained, as well as a play on your protagonist’s name. Where did the name come from?

S: Actually the band existed as far back as ten years ago with a rapper named R.A. the Rugged Man. R.A. was a huge fan of lots of pulps and B-movies, but I think also, part of it was speaking to how he felt about who he was as a white dude in this band with a bunch of black dudes.

In real life, growing up, one of my closest friends was named Tyrone White. A lot of the subject matter that the “fictional” character explores, were things that myself and Tyrone experienced growing up. The same can be said for Daryl and Murs.

There’s a weird stigma where rock and roll has become a white thing, but growing up, I knew that rock and roll had a connection to black culture. At the same time, there are those ignorant enough who will equate rock and roll to being a white sentiment. The notion of being a White Mandingo as an African American artist also speaks to being alien in a form that is not necessarily supposed to belong to you.