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Pop - Released June 19, 2020 | Boo Boo Wax

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Pop - Released January 25, 2019 | Boo Boo Wax

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 1994 | Capitol Records

Former Disposable Hero of Hiphoprisy Michael Franti takes his ideas even further with his debut record, covering a wide range of topics addressing the social conditions not only relevant to the African-American community, but to society in general. Immediate comparisons to other artists such as A Tribe Called Quest and Arrested Development are inevitable. They were all socially conscious and chose to have a message in their music, an angle decidedly different from the other two avenues of hip-hop of the time that focused on either gangster material or good-time, mindless commercial fodder. With a dark, brooding voice that could easily place him as the heir to Isaac Hayes or Barry White, Home greatly stressed consciousness and social thought over material value, but not at the expense of cheapening any other aspect of production. The whole vibe brought forth by employing a live band and backing singers easily paved the way for many nu-soul artists who continue to seek this path of influence. In the annals of hip-hop history, Home is an essential cornerstone to bringing socially conscious soul music and hip-hop close together. © Rob Theakston /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 22, 2016 | Fantasy Records

After the politically overcharged anti-war rant of Yell Fire in 2006, Michael Franti & Spearhead felt a musical sea change coming. He'd recorded part of that album in Kingston, Jamaica with the legendary production team Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. For All Rebel Rockers they returned for more. The end result is their finest record to date. Reggae and dancehall are the preeminent musics here, but they aren't the only ones. Franti set out to do what he always does, create a socially conscious set of tunes that reflected his social concerns, but he wanted to engage rather than merely express, to motivate by different means. Reggae is synonymous with resistance, but it is also often symbiotic with joy even in times of suffering. All Rebel Rockers focuses on both. It is a personal album that reaches out to solicit community and motivate them into the fold through joy -- even if that joy is expressed in the middle of an oppressive, empire-minded culture. Sly and Robbie are perfect collaborators, and the album is drenched in wonderful collisions of rhythms, textures, colors, and dynamics. Franti is less a rapper here and more of a singer. He's allowed his voice to relax (no crooning or yelling) and trust that his words have enough weight to make it through this dense "heavy music" mix to the listener. He's right. All Rebel Rockers is the first record by Franti's Spearhead that captures the power and goodwill of the band's live shows. The title track is a toasting bubbler with organic and synthetic rhythms, a female backing chorus, scratching, scratchy dub guitars, and Carl Young's uber-heavy bassline just rattling under it all. It's an invitation to a dance party at the end of the world. It doesn't boast in classic deejay style, but instead offers a travelogue and the announcement of the protagonist's return from exile. Its melody and rhythm are irresistible. If you can't rock this, you're dead. The funky dancehall of "A Little Bit of Riddim" with Cherine Anderson moves it all up a notch. Here the digital effects are more pronounced as the entire band -- with Sly and Robbie adding more drums and bass to the bottom end and Sticky Thompson doing his thing on percussion instruments -- kicks it into overdrive. In the midst of this throwdown, Franti's revolution is still right here. Check the gritty truth in "Life in the City" where, in a celebratory reggae jam, he lays out the balance of gritty truth: "They hit you with as missile/They hit you with a bomb/hit you with the law and try to take your home..." Elsewhere, he lays it out direct: the revolution doesn't happen with guns and bombs but from within, from the culture. On the ska-driven rattler, "Hey World (Remote Control Version),"Franti calls for a peaceful battle: "...I came here to rock/to smash the empire with my boom box." Funky sounds meet hard rock in "Soundsystem" and"The Future," big beat rockers that come down hard lyrically. But, righteously, love in all its forms is a big part of Franti's revolution, too -- check the deeply sensual dub-conscious "All I Want Is You" and the souled out reggae in "I Got Love for You," or the beautiful ballad that closes the set, "Have a Little Faith." He understands something most angry revolutionaries have forgotten: that love must be the basis of all change. All Rebel Rockers is drenched in it both musically and lyrically; it's a solid rhythm rocker with real politics at its heart. It's not only perfect; it's necessary. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 1997 | Capitol Records

What sets Chocolate Supa Highway immediately apart from the previous album Home is its sound -- boasting a murky, bass-heavy atmosphere clearly influenced by the rise of trip-hop, the album lends Michael Franti's politically-charged raps a cinematic distinction missing from his previous efforts. Spanning from R&B-textured urban grooves to jagged rap anthems, Chocolate Supa Highway is no less challenging or confrontational than its predecessor, but for the most time Franti's music bears an importance equal to his message. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo

Pop/Rock - Released May 15, 2001 | Boo Boo Wax

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2003 | Fantasy Records

In a rap world set predominately on a limited range of topics to cover, politically and socially charged hip-hop is a breath of pure, fresh air. For the past decade, Spearhead and Michael Franti have been the antiseptic to a plaque-filled gold-toothed hip-hop mouth, expelling righteous truths and music with extremely thoughtful, meticulous details. Everyone Deserves Music continues with the tradition, but takes the sound of Spearhead into more of a disco-funk territory at times. This doesn't displace Franti's lyrics by any means, but gives him an extremely fresh perspective to stretch out and experiment with his delivery. Not so much a punch to the stomach like their previous releases, Franti and Spearhead almost made a deliberate attempt to stray from the typical hip-hop beats and go for something a bit more organic and acoustic than their previous efforts -- and the experiments more than pay off. It's honest, compelling, emotional, and soulful, and it's unfortunate that these values don't equate with much in the commercial hip-hop market anymore. In a perfect world, this would be a future classic played out of every car stereo, boombox, and apartment for generations to come. © Rob Theakston /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 3, 2016 | Fantasy Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2010 | Capitol Records

With a chorus that’s bubbly, a hook that’s infectious, and a title that’s “Hey Hey Hey,” the key track on Michael Franti’s 2010 effort is wide open for ridicule, but on the cut, the man who once seemed like Gil Scott-Heron for the techno generation makes an excellent argument for happiness. “Hey, hey, hey/No matter how life is today/There’s just one thing that I got to say/I won’t let another moment slip away” it goes, and while that’s coming from a man who just had his first hit -- and in the U.S., his first beer commercial -- with 2009’s “Say Hey (I Love You),” it is also coming from a man who ended up facing his own mortality when his appendix ruptured around the same time. The Sound of Sunshine is the “seize the day” result to a reggae-pop, jam band beat, filled with bliss and gratitude plus a bit of swagger and some pointed political moments that remind you this isn’t Jack Johnson or John Mayer. That dynamic duo certainly couldn’t trade lines with dancehall diva Lady Saw as well as Franti does either, and the great “Shake It” winds up “Say Hey”’s worthy successor, perfect for adding some solid songwriting to your next pool party. “Only Thing Missing Was You” and “Headphones” both fit the bill for when the sun sets and good friends gather round the beach bonfire, and you couldn’t ask for a better closer than “The Sound of Sunshine Going Down,” which executes its heartwarming day exit strategy flawlessly, from its mood to its title. To say the record isn’t “challenging” is an understatement, especially when looking at his early work, but it’s easy to overlook how skillfully the man crafts positive music that’s sunshine, and yet not sugary. Don’t let the wide smiles or welcoming music steer you away, because there’s as much meaning and heart here as there is anywhere in Franti’s discography. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2013 | Capitol Records (CAP)

Michael Franti's evolution from pissed-off punk to flip-flop-wearing jam band man is fascinating because he's come off as sincere on either end, and with his 2013 release, he continues to confuse and sooth in equal measure. Good news is, the confused feeling fades once the sun-drenched, feel-good vibes of the latter sink in, with "I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)" offering the most immediate relief from the drudgery of the day, coming off as a sing-along, clap-along, or whistle-along triple threat for the nighttime campfire hippie set. The opening title track is the same vibe with pop and slickness carrying its message of unity to the people, while "11:59" uses jam band melodies and hip-hop beats to persuade listeners to join Franti's chant for peace. One more round of "Hallelujah" and All People would come off as a commune soundtrack never meant to be experienced alone, but with the smooth, miniature techno of "Long Ride Home" the album takes a winning turn for the personal and small. The punchy "Earth from Outer Space" with fellow peacemaker K'NAAN puts some big-bottomed reggae into the album's flow, then "Closer to You" builds from intimate to uplifting before the psychedelic relic "Wherever You Are" reminds listeners that the Beatles were dazzling during their acid days. Approaching the album in any cynical matter will ruin the whole show, and even if it seems some songs share the same sentiment to the point of redundancy, All People is about feeling good and hopeful. Split this collection of peace and sunshine down the middle for greatest effect. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Reggae - Released April 22, 2016 | Fantasy Records

Michael Franti's worldview and his music are so tightly entangled that it's difficult to imagine one existing without the other. So none of his fans could have been all that surprised when Franti returned from a 2004 trip to war-torn regions of Iraq, Israel, and Palestine and subsequently released both I Know I'm Not Alone, a documentary film/DVD based on his travels, and Yell Fire!, his most socially conscious album to date. While Yell Fire! is nothing as precious as a concept album, neither is there a song on the lyrically direct set that doesn't find Franti driving home a point, be it on the precarious state of our planet and those who've rendered it so, or the fragile condition of human relationships and the urgency with which people need to repair them. Recorded in both Kingston, Jamaica (the legendary Riddim Twins of reggae, Sly & Robbie, each guest on four tracks), and in San Francisco, Yell Fire! is stacked with deep grooves: the opening "Time to Go Home," "Everyone ona Move," the title track, and "Light Up Ya Lighter" all share a clarity of vision, attitude of great magnitude, and a levels-deep lyrical richness, all while kicking serious rhythmic ass. But even the texturally lighter moments -- the ballads "One Step Closer to You" (with harmony vocals by Pink), "Tolerance," and "Is Love Enough?" -- follow through on the album's thread of righteous positivity, no-brainer pacifism, accept-it-or-die tolerance, and the universal unification of spirit. Franti's brain-stimulating songwriting rises to a new level of proficiency here -- the playful "Hello Bonjour" is as much a shout out to truth and justice as the knife-sharp "See You in the Light." If there is a weakness, it's that the arrangements to which Franti's listen-carefully lyrics are set often fall subservient to his boosted-in-the-mix vocals. At times that leaves Spearhead's reggae/funk/dancehall/hip-hop amalgams necessarily shadowed by their leader's real-life, life-affirming commentaries. But never does Yell Fire! suffer for it. What Franti is saying here is what needs to be heard -- sooner than later. © Jeff Tamarkin /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2013 | Capitol Records (CAP)

Michael Franti's evolution from pissed-off punk to flip-flop-wearing jam band man is fascinating because he's come off as sincere on either end, and with his 2013 release, he continues to confuse and sooth in equal measure. Good news is, the confused feeling fades once the sun-drenched, feel-good vibes of the latter sink in, with "I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)" offering the most immediate relief from the drudgery of the day, coming off as a sing-along, clap-along, or whistle-along triple threat for the nighttime campfire hippie set. The opening title track is the same vibe with pop and slickness carrying its message of unity to the people, while "11:59" uses jam band melodies and hip-hop beats to persuade listeners to join Franti's chant for peace. One more round of "Hallelujah" and All People would come off as a commune soundtrack never meant to be experienced alone, but with the smooth, miniature techno of "Long Ride Home" the album takes a winning turn for the personal and small. The punchy "Earth from Outer Space" with fellow peacemaker K'NAAN puts some big-bottomed reggae into the album's flow, then "Closer to You" builds from intimate to uplifting before the psychedelic relic "Wherever You Are" reminds listeners that the Beatles were dazzling during their acid days. Approaching the album in any cynical matter will ruin the whole show, and even if it seems some songs share the same sentiment to the point of redundancy, All People is about feeling good and hopeful. Split this collection of peace and sunshine down the middle for greatest effect. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 12, 2019 | Boo Boo Wax

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 3, 2016 | Fantasy Records

While Michael Franti's 2013 LP All People was a rollercoaster ride over angry lows and harrowing highs, there was also its smooth, miniature techno cut "Long Ride Home," a song where the album took a winning turn toward personal and small. Three years later, Soulrocker is Franti's commonly accepted "electronic" effort, where bass-drops and EDM ideas mesh with guitars and flip-flop music, and it is an album where the band called Spearhead are sometimes reduced to laptop and drum machine. The good news is that "My Lord" is the chugging EDM-meets-rootsy-music tune that producers like Avicii have tried to achieve as of late, and with so many of Franti's songs aiming for a crowd singing in unison, bright dance music is an easy fit. Some of Soulrocker could be packaged as a superior remix collection and no one would know the difference, but the easy electro of "Long Ride Home" returns to chill many of these tracks, and there's an argument that the singer/songwriter gets more personal and deeper when blinking LEDs and LCD screens replace his band. "Get Myself to Saturday" ("There was a part of me that can't go on today/And there's a part of me that always finds a way") is a prime example, with honest and vulnerable lyrics coming from a man who kicked off his career with the political attack squads the Beatnigs and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. "My Favorite Wine Is Tequila" may go the full Jimmy Buffett, but a classic, vintage reggae sample makes it the right kind of cheeky, and if the strings on "Love Will Find a Way" are synthetic, the song and the performance are still angelic, connecting immediately and giving Franti his own "Redemption Song." All that said, "We Are All Earthlings" is like a Greenpeace sticker plastered over a Recycle sticker stuck on a flyer for clean water, and Franti covers the same ground (grew up confused, got mad at the world, then things got better) on a couple autobiographical songs. These small complaints just keep it from being his bona fide best, and the biggest complaint would be that this is considered an EDM album and nothing more. It is electro, but Soulrocker is also inspired, warm, and inviting, plus in parts, it is diminutive in the best sense of the word. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 8, 2020 | Boo Boo Wax

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Pop - Released May 22, 2020 | Boo Boo Wax

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Pop - Released June 5, 2020 | Boo Boo Wax

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 24, 2016 | Fantasy Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2015 | Fantasy Records

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Metal - Released December 6, 2007 | Invictus Productions