Michael Franti – Citizen of The World

Michael Franti – Global Citizen of The World

When it comes to Michael Franti, There are so many different avenues that define what he’s about. Whether it’s being the musician, poet, activist, documentarian, singer/songwriter or a family man. Somehow he figures out a way to accommodate all these different personas while still keeping his sanity.  For me, I like to think of him as a global citizen that takes on things that most of us just don’t even bother to acknowledge or want to get involved in.


Of course he’s not the only one, there are plenty of musicians, politicians and artists out in the world reminding us to stand up for ourselves and be counted and acknowledged. Below is an interview that he did with KEXP Radio. Not only is it a great interview but also a great example of what he’s about, where he came from and what he’s doing to create positivity and optimism in a world that sometimes can be quite overwhelming. The best part is Franti talking about Tenacious Enthusiasm! 


The Early Years – Growing up in Oakland

Born in Oakland, California. At an early age he is placed up for adoption because his mother felt that he wouldn’t be accepted by her racist family. Shortly after, he’s adopted into a blended family that already had children of their own as well as another adopted kid. He attends Davis Senior High School and University of San Francisco on a full basketball scholarship. He finds his inspiration for writing music and eventually his passion for performing. Needless to say, he did ok for himself and has garnered many fans along the way!


Starting Out On His Musical Path

Poet, musician and political activist Michael Franti begins his music career in 1986 as part of the industrial punk band The Beatnigs. Which later morph’s into “The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy”, an industrial punk band with several hits under their belt in the UK in the early 90’s. With their politically charged in your face lyrics, it’s no surprise that they later end up opening for U2 on their Zoo TV Tour.


Sadly, the band disbands in 1994. While the band is no longer around, the energy and the angst is still a part of Franti’s DNA. But instead of tearing things up, it’s more about motivation and finding solutions to the problems in a way that gets the point across without resentment and hate. 

The Formation of Spearhead AKA Michael Franti & Spearhead

Franti goes on to form a new band called “Spearhead” with a few studio musicians, and starts creating music that blends hip hop with a variety of other styles including funk, jazz, reggae and rock. In 1997, this is when his music takes a deeper turn towards the reggae influences with the likes of guest appearances by Stephen Marley and Joan Osborne added to mix. They release two albums with Capitol Records and then they part ways with Capitol and decide to create their own label called Boo Boo Wax.


Since Capitol Records owned the rights to the name “Spearhead”, subsequent albums were all released as “Michael Franti & Spearhead.” Fast Forward to 2000, Michael Franti & Spearhead releases “Stay Human” under their own label Boo Boo Wax in alignment with indie music label Six Degrees Records. To this day, Michael Franti continues to gain influence in both popular music and social movements largely through extensive touring and word of mouth fan support. 


The Song That Gets Him on The Charts!

Realistically speaking, he and the band are pretty popular by this time! But this catchy tune is what gets him on the charts. It’s a radio friendly song is from the band’s sixth studio album, “All Rebel Rockers”, and releasing as a single in 2009, “Say Hey (I Love You” ) becomes Franti’s first ever American multi-format hit record. A song about a life journey where the theme is about how “we love the people who are closest to us.” – Franti


“People are smiling on this song because in these uncertain times people are connecting with what they value most, friends, family and togetherness. It’s also got a hot beat and you can dance to it.” – Franti


Franti tells Billboard magazine that after 15 years of pioneering social humanitarianism through his blend of musical styles, on this song he wanted to do something different.  Franti goes on to say… “I’ve made political music my whole life. But at the end of this project, I thought we needed a fun, singalong song given the serious things happening in the world. And while I can’t wipe the smile off my face about the song’s success, it’s just another reminder for me to just make music for the love of it.”‘ Furthermore, this is Franti’s first song ever to crack the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100.



KEXP Video: Host: Kevin Cole, Audio Engineer: Kevin Suggs, Cameras: Jim Beckmann, Alaia D’Alessandro & Justin Wilmore, Editor: Alaia D’Alessandro – http://kexp.org, Sonny BeachDHOH Video, 101.9 KINK.FM: Michael Franti – Life Is Better With You (Bing Lounge).  https://michaelfranti.com/


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