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Michael Franti

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Since his days as a member of the Beatnigs while in his early twenties, Michael Franti grew from an angry young hip-hopper with a political, socially conscious bent (the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Spearhead) to a man who channeled his seriousness, social unease, and desire for change and merged them with his love of music, particularly old-school R&B, soul, and hip-hop. What he left behind in brash, make-some-noise aesthetic, he gained in compassion. And through his use of his own raw power -- charisma, sex appeal, sense of social injustice -- he carried out in his music a community-generated passion in much the same way as Gil Scott-Heron or Marvin Gaye. Franti was adopted at birth by white parents in the predominantly black community of Oakland, California. That set of contradictory circumstances instilled in him a hyper-awareness of his own cultural identity, as did the sobering fact that his more thoughtful, less provocative style of expression was not accepted by the African-American audience that had embraced a harsher, more combative faction of the hip-hop movement. In 1986, Franti formed the drum'n'bass/industrial duo the Beatnigs with turntablist Rono Tse, disbanding after one album. He then formed the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, whose combination of jazz-influenced heavy rap set out to challenge the materialism and misogyny of what had become mainstream rap. His next project, Spearhead, produced the critically acclaimed Home in 1990. The album contained the single, "Hole in the Bucket," a thoughtful lament on the plight of the homeless, and "Positive," which addressed the growing AIDS epidemic. The album boasted adept funk samplings, sinuous guitar vamps, and soulful, melodic tracks about family and social injustice. Released in 1997, Chocolate Supa Highway was not as pop-friendly as Home, but neither did its themes of kidnappings and police brutality lend themselves to such overt accessibility. Its mixture of harsher musical styles -- techno, rock, and funk -- was a step forward for Franti as his world view broadened and deepened. In 2001, Franti released Stay Human. In it he expresses his anger at the system, his advocacy of love, and his belief in freedom through individuality and self-expression through a set of songs that revolve around a fictitious death penalty case. In it, his embrace of the genres that inspired him is achieved with eloquence. Songs from the Front Porch was Franti's first proper solo album, appearing in 2003. It was an acoustic affair that had him focusing even more on his singing, but not at the expense of his intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics. In 2005, Love Kamikaze: The Lost Sex Singles & Collectors' Remixes appeared. Again billed only to Franti, it was a collection of Spearhead tracks that didn't quite fit into the albums they were originally recorded for (as well as a couple different mixes from the Stay Human album). In 2006, Franti and Spearhead released Yell Fire! The album was partially recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, and, along with the book and film I Know I'm Not Alone, was part of a trilogy that shared the theme of documenting Franti's then-recent visits to Israel, Palestine, and Iraq. Numerous live releases took Franti to 2008 and a new album, All Rebel Rockers. The album was once again recorded in Jamaica and featured the legendary rhythm section of Sly & Robbie. It also featured the Top 20 hit "Say Hey (I Love You)." Franti and his band spent a few months touring in support of John Mayer before settling down to record again, releasing The Sound of Sunshine in 2010. After a tour, some humanitarian work, and time off, Franti returned to recording; All People was released in the summer of 2013. Soul Rocker, from 2016, featured more electronic music in the mix, thanks in part to producers like Stephen McGregor (son of reggae legend Freddie McGregor) and Dwayne Chin-Quee, aka Supa Dups, from the Black Chiney Sound System. ~ Travis Drageset
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Stations Featuring
Michael Franti

    Jam Bands

    Jam Bands
    7 songs

    Neo-Soul

    Neo-Soul
    1 song

Albums by
Michael Franti

Top Songs by
Michael Franti

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Love'll Set Me Free
  3.   Yes I Will
  4.   Rock the Nation
  5.   Stay Human
  6.   Every Single Soul
  7.   Anybody Seen My Mind
  8.   Oh My God
  9.   11:59 by Michael Franti & Spearhead
  10.   Life is Better With You
  11.   I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)
  12.   Long Ride Home by Michael Franti & Spearhead
  13.   Ganja Baby
  14.   Firefly
  15.   Do It for the Love by Michael Franti & Spearhead
  16.   I Don't Wanna Go by Michael Franti & Spearhead
  17.   The World Around by Buscemi
  18.   Radio Segment
  19.   The Sound of Sunshine
  20.   Wherever You Are by Michael Franti & Spearhead
  21.   Show Me a Sign by Michael Franti & Spearhead
  22.   Subterranean Homesick Blues
  23.   Union Love Juice
  24.   Yens and Euros featuring Michael Franti & Spearhead
  25.   Bomb the World
  26.   Love Invincible
  27.   Do Ya Love
  28.   Gangsta Girl by Michael Franti & Spearhead
  29.   Say Goodbye by Michael Franti & Spearhead
  30.   On and On by Michael Franti & Spearhead
  31.   Closer to You by Michael Franti & Spearhead
  32.   Earth From Outer Space
  33.   All People featuring Gina Rene
  34.   Skin on the Drum by Spearhead
  35.   Ganja Babe
  36.   Closer to the Sky
  37.   Soulshine
  38.   Sometimes
  39.   Skin on the Drum
  40.   I Know I'm Not Alone by Spearhead
  41.   Listener Supported
  42.   We Don't Mind
  43.   Speaking of Tongues
  44.   Light Up Ya Lighter by Spearhead
  45.   Thank You

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