December 2001

Micahel Franti and Spearhead
Stay Human
Six Degrees

On Michael Franti's, Stay Human (recorded with his chameleonlike band, Spearhead), the alternative rapper and social activist tackles two hot buttons: the death penalty and medical marijuana. Wrapping a stylistic mix of retro grooves around a faux-Pacifica radio show that's covering the fictitious trials of Sister Fatima, a social activist who's headed for the gas chamber because of some trumped-up murder charges, Franti sings and raps passionately and pointedly, making up for his less-than-stellar rapping skills. And even though he often spits out simplistic rhetoric for complicated issues and the storyline gets a little too convoluted to swallow, it's one of the best politically charged hip-hop albums of the year.

Originally published in December 2001
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