Before Michael Franti was sucked into the Jack Johnson-centred black hole of dull, hippy, surfer chic, he was the front man of the mighty Disposable Heroes – an outfit that showed just how funky and intelligent industrial hip-hop could be.
I saw these guys at the second ever Big Day Out and it remains one of the standout live music experiences of my life (thus far). A 6’6″ MC and a pint-sized Asian guy wielding an axle-grinder are hard to forget.
Their debut album captures the live energy plus a little bit more. Its a well-balanced mix of the political and personal. While it was released almost 18 years ago, much of the socio-political content still seems very relevant, as Franti rants against Gulf War I, corporate power, bank bailouts, cynical politicians and media mundanity. The take on the Dead Kennedys‘ California Über Alles is political rallying at its finest.
It’s when he explores the more human issues that this album hits its peak. Socio-Genetic Experiment and the title track are fantastic insights into Franti’s day-to-day life (the latter was perfect live too). The karma-packed Language of Violence should be a compulsory anti-bullying campaign:
I’ll leave you with the lyrics that adorned the back of my much-worn D.Heroes tee:
The bass, the treble don’t make a rebel
Having your life together does
File under: This is a necessity, not a luxury
Posted in D
Tagged album, album review, Beatnigs, CD review, Dead Kennedys, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, hip hop, Michael Franti, music, music review, Spearhead
This album title emanates from yet another crowd vox pop quote. Not surprisingly some in the Consolidated audiences got pretty pissed off at the pumping industrial dance tracks being interrupted by lengthy diatribes.
The wierd bit is that this album has much more accomplished and listenable musical tracks than the preceding two releases from the ‘collective’.
I suspect this was the first album I heard and bought from this band, as this is where they most sound like Michael Franti’s Disposable Heroes. The ranting is more rhythmic, and the narrative threads weaved through the songs are more captivating and engaging.
And, despite the scolding, know-it-all tone of many tracks, there are moments of definite humour, and also the most memorable contribution of the band, namely the inclusion of a track by guest rappers, the Yeastie Girlz.
Here it is in all its glory (warning, this is not particularly work-friendly, discussing as it does the merits of cunnilingus):
More tunes like that and I’d be much happier with the album.
File under: No, play more good music
This CD sits at the unusual intersection of literature, spoken word and music.
The music is fairly incidental and subtle relative to the verbal content. It really just some beats, a bit of urgent, skivvy-wearing discordant horn blasts and some industrial samples.
Its the Burroughs poetry and imagery which totally dominates. He verbalises excerpts from several of his works, and most of them are disturbing. This is the world of mutants, extraneous body orifices and cruel, lawless states.
I once fell asleep to this CD (deliberately – i.e. I had put it on at bedtime). I had some of the most disturbing dreams as I internalised Burroughs’ dreamings. I guess it’s cheaper than hallucinogens, but I would hope for prettier pictures.
For the Michael Franti completists out there, this is by far his artiest work, and, I suspect, much more the results of Ronny Tse and Charlie Hunter’s efforts than his.
Ultimately this isn’t something I chuck on for a relaxing listen. It serves much the same purpose as having Burroughs on the bookshelf – as a testament to some feigned hipster Beat Poet phase that thoroughly failed to impress undergrad girlies back in the day, and now gathers dust.
File under: Art with an extra heart
Often, when you find a new and exciting act, the tendency is to rush off in search of more of their material.
In 1992 I fell for the industrial-hip-hop of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. The word on the street was that band had evolved from an earlier incarnation, known as The Beatnigs. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a copy of their only album anywhere in Melbourne (the web and e-commerce was only but a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye back then).
Many years later, as Disposables’ front man Michael Franti was morphing into some sort of Marley-Harper-Jesus hybrid super-being, I finally purchased it on-line.
This album is driven by a mix of samples, industrial clanging and spoken word (think Gil Scott-Heron without the cool factor). The content is overtly political, peppered with soundbites from Reaganite US and apartheid South Africa. Nevertheless, there a strong sense of humour and satire. And, this was where the Disposables’ biggest ‘hit’ Television (Drug of Nation) was born. Indeed it appears in 3 different versions here, some bordering on Dead Kennedys-ish punk rants.
This was not a bad purchase after the long wait.
File under: San Francisco industrial hardcore rap activism (surely that’s a typical section in any reputable music store)