Stay Human

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While some bemoan the passing of the heyday of political rap typified by artists such as Public Enemy and X-Clan, for underground and alternative voices such as dead prez, Mos Def, and Michael Franti, that era never ended. Franti, who earned his power-to-the-people badge fronting the nonconformist rap posse the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, has reentered the political rap arena with his third Spearhead project, Stay Human. In the mode of Jill Scott, Arrested Development, and the Fugees, Franti's collective emphasizes socially conscious rhymes and soulful choruses drizzling over easy-flowing, '70s style funk beats. Lyrically, however, Franti still has a bone or two to pick with the Man. And the novel concept ...
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2001-05-15 Audio CD New SEALED in the shrink wrap! #AA3196. FAST shipping, FREE delivery confirmation and online tracking. Thank you!

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
While some bemoan the passing of the heyday of political rap typified by artists such as Public Enemy and X-Clan, for underground and alternative voices such as dead prez, Mos Def, and Michael Franti, that era never ended. Franti, who earned his power-to-the-people badge fronting the nonconformist rap posse the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, has reentered the political rap arena with his third Spearhead project, Stay Human. In the mode of Jill Scott, Arrested Development, and the Fugees, Franti's collective emphasizes socially conscious rhymes and soulful choruses drizzling over easy-flowing, '70s style funk beats. Lyrically, however, Franti still has a bone or two to pick with the Man. And the novel concept behind Stay Human is a platform for Franti's opposition to the death penalty. Constructed as a broadcast from a Bay Area public radio station, the album intersperses songs with the unfolding saga of the impending execution of a black activist. Calling in to the show are the governor, played by Woody Harrelson, and the activist herself, played by real-life Black Panther Kiilu Nyasha -- each propelling the narrative forward. The disc's opening track, "Oh My God," sets the thought-provoking tone for the rest of the album -- as Franti excoriates crooked cops over a buoyant soul vamp. Elsewhere, he addresses the issues as well as exploring personal the themes of spirituality and commitment on the ballad "Do Ya Love." Happily, Franti's vocals can handle it, having graduated from a post-Chuck D. baritone to a Gil Scott-Heron croon, flavored with brawny dancehall declamations. While Franti's confrontational lyrics and poem-songs swim against today's flashy pop culture current, the boldly constructed and delivered Stay Human is keenly aware of its vanguard role. As Franti proclaims on the title track, "the freaky people make the beauty of the world." Amen to that. Tony Green
All Music Guide - Alan Severa
An album of two levels: The level that makes the first impression is the radio phone-in show that Michael Franti chose to use as a conceptual framework in which these 13 new songs are embedded. The drama that unfolds during that radio show supported by liner notes at the front of the CD booklet centers on a death penalty case. The events documented in those segments sound all too familiar in their gruesomeness, so it becomes compelling to check the booklet to see if these are indeed authentic recordings of a broadcast or staged ones as part of the album's two-level concept and only a short remark near the end of the booklet gives the answer to that. The impressive impact of that scenario is rounded off by quotes in the booklet from various activists and musicians who oppose the death penalty with names ranging from Bono to Jello Biafra. The second level of the album provides a contrast to all that on a musical level -- the actual songs being predominantly based in the elegance of early-'70s soul music -- although Franti makes sure to get a resolute message across in the lyrics, and there are plenty of contemporary sound elements in the arrangements to keep this from becoming a purely "retro" album. However, both the styles and the lyrics do hark back to 30 years ago, when black music regularly sounded this elegant and lyrically aware. As it often was then, this album's message is essentially one of tolerance as the key to all kinds of solutions as the title track, "Stay Human," puts it: "All the freaky people make the beauty of the world", paired with militant resolve to spread that message, especially on songs like "Rock the Nation" and "Listener Supported." Most of the songs are actually pretty laid-back underlining the anti-violence stance of the lyrics. That in itself would be nothing new for a Spearhead album, but the crisp production this time around the best yet on a Spearhead album steers clear of a certain dull monotony that weighed down the previous albums. The elegance and lightness of touch results in highlights such as "We Don't Mind" and "Do Ya Love." As usual with Spearhead, rapping remains just one of the parts of the musical picture, and indeed, after all the heavy-duty militancy that hip-hop brought to bear on black music in the past 20 years, hearing this album raises the question of how much has actually been achieved, when in 2001 a new album can feel contemporary although the sound and feelings expressed are very close to what they were like 30 years back. That possibly gives Franti a kind of outsider position, and some people might well deride this album's "hippy ideals," but it is a very valid and entertaining attempt at furthering social awareness on the strength of the most satisfying Spearhead songs yet.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/15/2001
  • Label: Six Degrees
  • UPC: 657036104822
  • Catalog Number: 1048

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Oh My God (5:07)
  2. 2 Radio Segment (0:52)
  3. 3 Stay Human (All the Freaky People) (4:26)
  4. 4 Radio Segment (0:59)
  5. 5 Rock the Nation (4:26)
  6. 6 Sometimes (4:05)
  7. 7 Radio Segment (1:25)
  8. 8 Do Ya Love (4:50)
  9. 9 Radio Segment (1:17)
  10. 10 Soulshine (3:58)
  11. 11 Every Single Soul (5:43)
  12. 12 Radio Segment (1:01)
  13. 13 Love'll Set Me Free (3:57)
  14. 14 Thank You (4:55)
  15. 15 Radio Segment (2:29)
  16. 16 We Don't Mind (4:49)
  17. 17 Radio Segment (0:49)
  18. 18 Speaking of Tongues (4:45)
  19. 19 Radio Segment (1:35)
  20. 20 Listener Supported (4:37)
  21. 21 Radio Segment (0:44)
  22. 22 Skin on the Drum (6:19)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Michael Franti & Spearhead Primary Artist
Michael Franti Indexed Contributor, Guitar, Vocals
Zap Mama Vocals
Jay Lane Drums
Carl Young Bass, Flute, Keyboards, Saxophone, Voices
Jennifer Kloetzel Cello
Ramon Lazo Keyboards, fender rhodes
Dave Shul Guitar
Victor Castro Trombone
Gordon Ramos Saxophone
Evan Price Violin
Bob Crawford Keyboards
Mary Harris Background Vocals
Cecily Ward Violin
Technical Credits
Michael Franti Composer, Programming, Producer, Engineer
Carl Young Radio Voice
Scott Hull Mastering
DJ Choco Producer, drum programming
Randy Miller String Arrangements
C. Young Composer
Mary Harris Vocal Arrangements
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