Taken from Daily Lobo (February 3, 2004)
Eclectic mix drives message
by Marissa Juarez
Politically and socially inspired musician Michael Franti isn't afraid to voice his dissenting opinion, despite governmental attempts to silence his message.
With his latest album Everyone Deserves Music, Franti and his band Spearhead offer listeners promising prescriptions that might help to heal an afflicted world.
The album speaks abundantly of positive messages in 12 songs that are as diverse as the band members themselves. With everything from hip-hop to dancehall reggae to folk, rock and blues, the music on this album offers a cornucopia of sounds that are sure to grant listeners a form of melodic transcendence.
The innovations on this album are enriching and enjoyable, diverging from the all-too-drab mainstream music of today. By the end of the record, the listener is sure to be enlightened by its message and pleasingly overwhelmed by the harmonious blend of vocals and instruments.
The mantras presented in this album range from the mundane to the spiritual, as Franti explores the trials of humanity and the paths toward philanthropy and equality.
The music, inspired by the events following Sept. 11, has been criticized by many conservatives for being overtly political and excessively revolutionary, according to Franti. These criticisms are far from accurate. Anyone who listens to the album will realize that its intent is to inform, illuminate and invite the listener to promote peaceful and nonviolent resolutions to the problems in the world today.
In the track titled "Bomb the World," Franti sings "Power to the peaceful," saying "We can chase down all our enemies/ We can bring them to their knees/ We can bomb the world to pieces/ But we can't bomb it into peace."
Another track, "What I Be," takes the listener through a fusion of electronics and instrumentals with vocals like, "If I could be the sun I'd radiate like Africa and smile upon the world, intergalactic love-laughter/ If I were the rains, I'd wash away the whole world's pains/ If I were the earth, I'd be like mountains bountiful/ If I were the sky, I'd be like winds invincible." Poetic lyrics like these are what make Everyone Deserves Music such a sugary-sweet success.
The song "We Don't Stop," is a funk-driven track with elements of hip-hop and rock 'n' roll. The song features the Gift of Gab from Blackalicious and the beatboxing bravado of Spearhead's own Radioactive. The song offers lyrics like "I wanna rock the punks because I love punk rock/ I wanna rock the hips because I love hip-hop/ I wanna rock my peeps all around the block/ If I were in Baghdad then I would rock Iraq."
In the album's title track, Franti sings of music's healing powers with the words, "Even our worst enemies deserve music."
With the variety of genres and influences in Everyone Deserves Music, it's probably safe to say that even the most critical listener will appreciate its diversity. The album should not be negatively labeled as revolutionary in the sense of militant activism as some critics have argued. Instead, it should be acclaimed as revolutionary in terms of its original style and creativity.