as of 01/18/2022 (Details)
There aren't many hip-hop artists out there today who give a damn about putting positive messages in their music, but Michael Franti is one of them. Ever since his days with seminal group Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Franti has infused his sounds with insightful and thought-provoking lyricism, and this latest Spearhead joint is no exception. Stay Human tackles, among other things, the subject of capital punishment. Through a make-believe community radio station, Franti tells the tale of Sister Fatima, a healer and activist who is being put to death for a crime that her community believes she didn't commit. The "live" broadcasts act as elaborate skits between Franti's insouciant, soul-rap hybrids and help to expose the arrogant nature of America's judicial system and the brutal finality of the death sentence. Musically, Franti has created a richer, more string-laden backdrop for his tracks, creating some of his best idiosyncratic, feel-good vibes to date. But while the funkadelic edge of "Rock the Nation" and laid-back ballad style of "Do Ya Love" are worthy in their own right, Franti's real genius lies in his ability to weave opinions into compelling narratives so that we don't feel we're being battered over the head with someone else's ideas. Emotive, soulful, and opinionated, Spearhead are almost single-handedly keeping alive a tradition epitomized by Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, and Bill Withers. Don't sleep. --Paul Sullivan
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