Taken from Word Magazine (March, 1997)
Michael Franti: Political 360 Tomahawk Dunk
by Victor Bains Marshall
Spearhead's man-on-the-point, b-ball aficionado Michael Franti was in town recently and was dropping science on my radio show "The Middle Passage" (CKLN 88.1 FM). He was particularly hyped and customarily philosophical over the upcoming release of Chocolate Supa Highway (EMI), the group's sophomore release.
"When you make a political record your first time out and you don't follow it up with another record in that same vein, people will say that you've sold out," says Franti who pointedly states the dual realities of bringing the message. "But if you keep on makin' the same political record over and over again, people be like 'I'm tired of this. Get that cat out of my face. I don't wanna hear it no more.'
"So I'm always in search of the 'groove,' know what I'm saying? Like when I was on my way over here and I was listening to your show, you were playing an Al Green track, and it's like 25 years later and that jam still opens up your heart and you want to listen to what he's saying."
While vibing with tha brotha it's obvious he's well read and he frequently makes use of sports in his recordings-particularly basketball-as a metaphor for life. One of Franti's sources of information and inspiration has been Caribbean writer and social activist C.L.R. James.
"James has written a lot of deep philosophy that is political, but he's always related it to the sport of cricket as a metaphor for the things that take place in life," Franti continues. "That's how and why I carry a b-ball with me, I like the discipline of the sport, the connection of the mind and body with your soul. I like using this dynamic to keep me driving into the future. That's how I deal with music too."
cutline: Michael Franti drives home the point