I would be the first person to admit that I am not “up to date” on the music scene. I find music that I like, and usually it came out in the 90s or the 60s. I am not swift on the uptake of new musical trends. Between my five major favorites (Blues Traveler, Nickel Creek, Switchfoot, the Beatles, and Queen), I have enough music to last me for 20 hours straight without having to worry. With only the music on my iTunes, I have 14.2 days worth of tunes to work through. Some of it I’ve never even listened to before. So it’s very rare that I actually venture out of my music bubble and explore something new.
Which is why, apart from “Say Hey (I Love You)”, I had never listened to anything by Michael Franti & Spearhead before this past week. And I have to say that I’ve fallen in love with the semi-reggae, politically charged social justice campaign that is Michael Franti music.
Reggae music is rooted in and has a long tradition of politics. When I think of Bob Marley, I get this blasting mix of “No Woman No Cry” and “Buffalo Soldier” teaching me about the failings of the government and the mistreatment of humanity. I’ve never actively listened to Marley (I’m not a Rastafarian, sorry), but I’ve always enjoyed the musical genre and appreciated the messages spoken by Marley.
Michael Franti & Spearhead carry on this tradition for a new generation. His music is not limited to the reggae audience alone, but speaks out to anyone willing to listen. Apart from “Say Hey (I Love You)” and “The Sound of Sunshine” (happy, upbeat tunes that make me feel warm even though NY got another few inches of snow last night) which make me feel like I’m in the middle of summer in Rio de Janeiro, I ‘discovered’ the songs “Hey, Hey, Hey” and “Hey World (Don’t Give Up)”. When I watched the video to “Hey World (Don’t Give Up)”, it tore my heart to bits. Michael Franti isn’t just railing against the government or our materialistic society; he’s showing his outrage at the injustices in the world.
If you don’t know me at all, social justice is a big deal to me, and it drives me crazy that it’s not a bigger deal to my peers. It’s depressing how much people my age want to disconnect from the greater social structure of the world. You tell someone “There are 27 million slaves in the world today” and they don’t even seem to care. It makes me insane.
I wouldn’t have come across it at all if I hadn’t had a minute obsession with “Say Hey (I Love You)” first. Franti’s popularity and wide appeal will hopefully help him spread his message of peace. Take a listen. Let yourself be challenged.