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Michael Franti and Spearhead: All Rebel Rockers

Michael Franti and Spearhead: All Rebel Rockers

Release Date:2008
Genre:Hip Hop/Rap

By Michaelangelo Matos | Posted 9/10/2008

It's simply not possible to mean better than Michael Franti does. Who but this musician/activist and former leader of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy would make the hook on one of the catchiest songs on his new album "I'm a human being, y'all"? He sells it, too, like the best salesman on a Greenpeace canvassing team. It's moments like that when Franti's flat, grainy tone, clunky beat sense, and unflagging one-world humanism work best, not least because that song, "A Little Bit of Riddim," like the rest of the decent stuff here, is an agreeably laid-back digi-reggae groove.

Franti's obvious compassion grounds everything here, and while it's nice to hear someone in pop music attempting to be a genuinely responsible adult, it means we get to sit through a lot of verbal broccoli, such as, from "Riddim," "Do you remember the time [when] . . . Everybody in the city always had a home?" (no, Michael, not since Reagan), or, from "Life in the City," "I-yi-yi, throw your hands in the sky/ 'Cause you never know how long you'll live till you die" (will do, brah). Moments of genuine wit or insight--as when he notes in "Life in the City," "Hope they never come and research you/ Because your grandmother was an immigrant, too"--are pretty far between. Franti is a human being, all right, but most of All Rebel Rockers feels less heart-to-heart communicative and more like a slogan-filled whiteboard, and ultimately just as flat.

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