Franti's Army 

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Michael Franti

Michael Franti was never a typical hip-hop artist. From his early days as the leader of the mid-'80s San Francisco group, the Beatnigs, through his formation of the '90s collective, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, up to the development of his current band, Spearhead, Franti has always emphasized social consciousness and musical eclecticism over commercial expediency.

While many of his contemporaries have succumbed to mindless gay bashing, Franti has been an outspoken AIDS activist. And while many hip-hop MCs concern themselves with issues no more monumental than their own big-pimpin' lifestyle, Franti prefers to take on the military-industrial complex.

Spearhead with Ziggy Marley
7pm Tuesday
February 10
$26 (advance);
$29 (day of show)

Sunset Station
1174 E. Commerce

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Hip-hop has provided a cultural framework for Franti's art, but his politically charged wordplay owes more to maverick wordsmiths like Gil Scott-Heron and the Last Poets. He's not only a link between these artists and the contemporary spoken-word movement, but a key influence on post-modern, bohemian rappers like Blackalicious and Dilated Peoples.

With Spearhead, Franti has found a musical vehicle whose breadth matches his own one-world social agenda. On the group's 2003 release, Everyone Deserves Music, Franti lends his gruff pipes to tracks that mix dancehall reggae, classic funk, and punk rock. Tellingly, his stirring anti-war diatribe, "We Don't Stop," borrows its groove not from an American hip-hop track, but from the Clash's "The Magnificent Seven," a British punk appropriation of rap. Franti has never been bound by convention, genre, or music-industry expectations, and he's not about to start now.
Gilbert Garcia



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