Now here’s a R&B artist who’s not afraid to publicise his political worldview. Getting the groove and the message right takes some skill. Franti hasn’t lost his touch, adding a touch of Reggae to the mix.
An overt human rights activist, Franti has never been afraid to voice an opinion. For his latest album, he’s chosen the universal rebel music as a theme: Reggae music.
Don’t worry if you’re not too keen on Reggae: Graphics and the songtitles apart, there’s only four straight Reggae tracks on the album and they are done in a poppy UB40 or Third World kind of way. Check out ‘All I Want Is You’ and you’ll know what I mean.
For most of the album, Franti fuses Reggae’s contemporary Dancehall form with Hip Hop and R&B. Both very compatible - just check Sean Paul - and Franti displays a knack for working Dancehall into upbeat jams and mellow ballads alike.
‘High Low’, for instance, is a classy lounge ballad. ‘A Little Bit Of Riddim’, ‘Soundsystem’ and ‘Hey World’ will sound good on your souped up SUV stereo or on the dancefloor.
My personal favourite sounds like a Specials’ 45 single slowed down to 33 then hijacked by Franti’s gruff R&B vocals: ‘Life In The City’ is slo-mo Ska with an Urban edge.
Just bear in mind that ‘All Rebel Rockers’ is a very mellow joint. This ain’t R&B for Bling lovers. There’s even the odd whiff of Paul Simon style world music blowing through here. If you liked the conscious Hip Hop of artists like The Roots, the Fugees and Guru, then ‘All Rebel Rockers’ is right down your street.
Franti’s been rallying for the oppressed and the underprivileged for more than 22 years with his bands The Beatnigs, Heroes Of Hipocrisy and Spearhead. He recently completed a filmmaking trip to Baghdad, the West Bank and the Gaza strip which resulted in a documentary on the human cost of war, ‘I Know I’m Not Alone’.
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