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Taken from daveyd.com (March 26, 2003)


Michael Franti
Looks like its more than just the Dixie Chicks coming underfire for speaking out against the war... Bay Area Hip Hop artist Michael Franti and his group Spearhead while enjoying tremendous fan support are being surveilled by the FBI...

Franti a long time activist has been selling out venues and drawing up to 30 thousand people to outdoor concerts around the country.. This is happening despite the fact that local Bay Area Hip Hop radio stations have not once played any of his popular songs...He released what many consider a landmark album when he was under the name 'Disposable Heroes of Hiphopocrisy'. Some of the songs that he released 10 years ago like 'Satanic Reverses' where he gives a break down of Middle East geo-politics are quite applicable today.

Today the most glaring omission from radio stations is a song called 'Bomb The World' which started out as an acoustic song...The remix features Bay Area soul singer Ledisi and Beatbox artist Radioactive. The Hip Hop/reggea track was freaked out by Sly and Robbie. The infectuos chorus goes 'You Can Bomb The World to Pieces, but You can't bomb the world to Peace'.

The song is absolutely incredible and is perhaps one of the best anti-war songs to come out to date. Its doesn't advocate violence. Nor does it call out and point fingers at any politicians. It's a call for peace and could easily be a song that Bob Marley would've done. Now the song first raised eyebrows when he performed it on the Craig Kilborne show shortly after 9-11. The producers were enraged that Franti did the song and censored it from their broadcast. Several months later they went ahead and played the performance.

What's ironic about this is that not too long ago Franti came on our radio show and broke down the history of Marley and told how during his prime he was in the cross hairs of the FBI's and CIA's counter intelligence program [Cointelpro]. He spoke about how the power of music and its ability to shape public opinion and inspire people into action was something that governments all over the world have been aware of and feared. Marley's call for folks rise up and to love one another was seen as a threat because he had the potential to unite people who would want to bring about some fundamental changes within their government. Hence artist like him were monitored. The other thing Franti pointed out is that it was no mistake that Marley did not enjoy much urban [Black radio play] which is something that he desperately wanted. There's always been an attempt to separate artist with compelling messages from the masses of the people who they desire to reach.

One thing about Franti is that everywhere he plays he attracts huge crowds. And despite having slamming Hip Hop songs that address societal ills like the prison industrial complex, HIV/AIDs and Media Control, he gets no urban radio play. This is inspite the fact that he played on the Smoking Grooves Tour. This is despite the fact that he has had remixes of some of his popular songs done by the Fugees. This is despite the fact that he has had in group dope underground Hip Hop artists like Azeem and RadioActive. This is inspite the fact that the free concerts that he pays for and annual puts on has not only attracted 20 thousand plus crowds but have also included Digital Underground, Talib Kweli, The Coup, Mystic and KRS-One on the bill.

Recently members of Michael Franti's band got some late visits from the FBI who were concerned about his anti-war songs and activities. He explained whats been going the other day on the excellent radio show Democracy Now Here's a transcript of that interview taken from AlterNet - Interview by Amy Goodman.


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