Taken from The Daily Cougar Online (January 26, 2004)
Franti and Spearhead still mix music with message
Two decades bring group to new level of musicianship
by Chris Griffin
The Daily Cougar
Michael Franti is the very definition of growth. In nearly two decades of making music, Franti gave an emphatic "No" to militarism, racism, and compromise, and adopted a more mellow approach after being an anti-everything punk-rocker. He created the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy in the early 1990s. After that group disbanded, Franti - influenced by the ideas of Bob Marley and Curtis Mayfield, and inspired by the likes of Gil Scott-Heron and Scarface - found new direction and a new band, Spearhead.
1994's Home and 1997's Chocolate Supa Highway sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and worldwide tours displaying the band's accomplished musicians soon made Spearhead a household name.
Franti and Spearhead create an eclectic melting pot of hip-hop, funk, jazz, rock and roots reggae with their latest endeavor, Everyone Deserves Music. In the mold of other wonderful musicians such as Digable Planets, Brand New Heavies and The Coup, Franti and Spearhead deliver politically charged messages while keeping the party going. "What I Be" is as much a catchy jam as it is thought-provoking. If Franti and Spearhead could be summed up by one song, that one lets the listener know what's it about. The group returns to its hip-hop roots with "We Don't Stop" which features Gift of Gab of Blackalicious over a rock-charged track where the topics range from political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal to chemical warfare. Mistakes of Everyone Deserves Music lie in songs such as the title track, "Never Too Late" and "Bomb the World," where the messages are meaningful but their soft guitar-ridden melodies often get repetitive and boring between the album's other super-charged, faster paced songs.
Remixes featured on albums are usually a disaster, but with the help of reggae icons Sly and Robbie, an interesting twist is put on "Bomb the World," considering the difference in pace of the two songs. "Feelin' Free" and "Pray for Grace" are great songs, but the real gem is the dance influenced "Love Invincible." Franti's lyrics and the band's impeccable guitar riffs and drum patterns make this song possibly the best song on the album.
Franti has never been more relevant and influential than he is now in both popular music and the peace movement. After a decade of social consciousness and political activism, Franti and Spearhead show no signs of slowing down on Everyone Deserves Music.
Lyrics from his song, "Bomb the World," written in the dark aftermath of 9/11, have found their way into the ears of many. "You can bomb the world to pieces / But you can't bomb it into peace." Franti and Spearhead will be in town Feb. 11 with Ziggy Marley.at Club V at the Verizon Wireless Theatre.
Michael Franti and Spearhead
Everyone Deserves Musics
The verdict: The album preaches and parties as Franti and Spearhead reach out to new listeners and satisfy longtime fans.