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Moving from hip-hop to nostalgic R&B and soul, Michael Franti has travelled across a broad musical spectrum throughout his career, yet his music has always been political and socially conscious…
Growing up in Oakland, California, US, Michael Franti was raised in a black community by his adopted white parents, an experience which fostered a deep awareness of his cultural identity, a theme which Franti often tackled through his music. This awareness of self led to Franti to become deeply interested in social issues, displaying the same sense of passion as Gil Scott-Heron.
Franti’s first foray into music was in 1986 with his drum ’n’ bass/industrial outfit, the Beatnigs, which came to an end after only one album release. Franti then turned his head to hip-hop, forming the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, fusing jazz-influenced beats with hard-hitting raps that was at odds with mainstream rap, attacking the misogyny and materialism inherent in the music.
Franti’s next project was with Spearhead, delivering socio-political hip-hop, addressing matters such as homelessness, police brutality and the increasing AIDS epidemic. Spearhead garnered critical acclaim through their releases, enjoying over a decade of success that offered a voice against social injustice.
In 2003, Franti released his first solo album, titled “Songs From the Front Porch,” an album of sensitive R&B delivered on an acoustic guitar, offering a new platform from which Franti could present his poignant and thought-provoking lyrics. In 2006, Franti united again with Spearhead for “Yell Fire!” which was recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, after which several live recordings were made available.
In 2008, Franti joined with legendary producers Sly & Robbie for “All Rebel Rockers,” a record that found influence from Jamaica once again. After a stint supporting John Mayer on his tour, Franti returned to the studio for 2010’s “The Sound of Sunshine,” before waiting three years to release new material, in the shape of “All People.”