Taken from EURWEB (Sep. 17, 2001)
MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD COMING STRAIGHT FROM THE HARVEST
'Stay Human,' Franti's latest is the right music for right now.
by Rhonda Planer
*Stay Human is Michael Franti/Spearheads latest artistic offering. Stylistically brewed with 70's dance music, funk and soul then sweetened with a brilliantly played skit woven between the tracks (featuring actor Woody Harrelson and Bay area poet Nazelah Jamison). It is Franti's sociopolitical awareness that heightens the flavor and makes this musical infusion at once intoxicating and invigorating. This is some serious ass-shaking music. True Hip Hop heads might remember Franti from the Beatnigs or the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and most consider Franti an underground artist of sorts.
"Marinating as an artist since 1987," he is what's been missing from the bling-bling/bootylicious era of rap and R& B. Franti has noticed the lack of substance as well.
"I do feel like there is a lack of voice in music. When I was a kid I was inspired by people like Muhammad Ali, he was an athlete, but he was also someone who raised his voice about what was happening in the world. And today in sports we don't see it, and we don't really see it in music anymore either.
Franti's intellectual prowess misses nothing; his songs are compellingly written narratives that don't condescend or pander.
"We can't just go and start screaming at the top of our lungs and say how messed up the world is and expect people to come on board." Michael's voice is even and without the aggressiveness usually evident on any one of his tracks.
He could be speaking of his stint with the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. It was during this time Michael learned that a stark message is too easily tuned out, however, that same message cloaked in story and a groove can sometimes make it to mainstream.
"We have to try to enrage, enlighten and inspire people to become more compassionate and the way you do that is like George Clinton said, you know, free your mind and your ass will follow." He pauses.
"We try to look at it in reverse, we figure if we can get people moving and get people feeling good that the lyrics that are sown with those seeds, those seeds will eventually take root and will sprout."
"With this album the message is really echoing what's taking place in this country, so the record is not just my voice, it's the voices of thousands and millions of people who are feeling things about the way the world is going and so people are starting to resonate with that." Franti explains.
The thirty-five year old San Francisco Bay Area artist doesn't mind if corporate radio stations are hip to him or not, and most are not. He didn't get into this for the recognition or the money. "I would love for black radio to pick up on what we're doing that would mean the world to me, it would move my heart, but if they don't I'm not going to stop doing what I'm doing. I'm still going to take the music to the people directly. Rather than say I'm going to have a hit single now, let me just keep doing what I'm doing and eventually people will come to know about me and what I do . I've always tried to make music that was from my heart and that was about things that I believed in.
The comparisons to Marvin Gaye and Gil Scott-Heron are inevitable. For so long we have been hungry for a voice to give reason to the madness, to challenge and inspire and Franti is positioned to rise to the occasion. Stay Human is an eclectic mix of styles from the old-school beats of "Rock the Nation" (which we need to rock right now) to the shimmery feel good groove of "Soulshine," Stay Human is one bad-ass jam from beginning to end. We can only hope the programmers' pick this one up soon. Franti is ready and we've been waiting. For more on Michael Franti, visit StayHuman.org