Album: Michael Franti and Spearhead

Everyone Deserves Music, EMI
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Few rappers have managed to negotiate the changing currents of hip-hop style as shrewdly as Michael Franti. Back in the early Nineties with The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, he came on like a hip college lecturer, with fiercely-argued proclamations on neo-colonialism and cultural entropy declaimed over beats'n'noise backings. Subsequently, his Spearhead project has since its 1994 inception striven to achieve a more populist appeal, with references to basketball and ganja leavening, though not replacing, the polemics, and care taken to make the backings more widely palatable. Everyone Deserves Music continues this process further: a song like "We Don't Stop" may find Franti as politically feisty as ever, but the electric piano funk groove, disco rhythm guitar chops and chorus chant have the infectious communality of a Kool & The Gang dancefloor anthem. The title track likewise draws on comforting melodic echoes of "You're All I Need to Get By" to carry its uplifting message of universality, while its spirit of inclusivity is reflected in the diversity of styles employed on other tracks: the Caribbean-flavoured "Pray for Grace", the rockier approach of "Love, Why Did You Go Away?", the slippery disco of "Love Invincible", and the anti-war samba "Crazy, Crazy, Crazy". He remains one of the most cogent commentators on his country's political landscape, a hip-hop Michael Moore with the ability to distil issues to their essence - as in the observation, "We can bomb the world to pieces, but we can't bomb it into peace."