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Complex Changes: Michael Franti

Michael Franti
Michael Franti

As an artist, Michael Franti has run the gamut from politically conscious hip-hop to a passionate blend of soul, hip-hop and R&B. But what his music has lost in harsh intensity, it has gained in emotional compassion. These days, his balance of social responsibility and passion might bring comparisons to Gil Scott-Heron or Marvin Gaye.

Ever since his childhood, Franti has been aware of -- and explored -- differences within black culture. The adoptive son of white parents in Oakland, Calif., Franti formed the Beatnigs with turntablist Rono Tse in 1986. He then formed the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, whose attempts to challenge the materialism and misogyny of rap music included addictive beats and rhymes of their own.

More critical acclaim came in 1994, when Franti and his band Spearhead produced Home, which addressed issues such as homelessness and the AIDS epidemic, as on the single "Hole in the Bucket." Since then, Franti has released a number of albums without ever losing his social conscious or relevancy as he continues to address kidnappings, police brutality, and social injustice.

In 2005, Love Kamikaze: The Lost Sex Singles and Collectors' Remixes came out. The disc is a collection of Spearhead tracks that never made it onto the albums they were originally recorded for, as well as a few remixes of songs on the Stay Human album.

Copyright 2006 XPN

David Dye
David Dye is a longtime Philadelphia radio personality whose music enthusiasm has captivated listeners of World Cafe® since 1991. World Cafe is produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania.