End of the Line: Michael Franti

End of the Line: Michael Franti

Michael Franti is a rebel rocker with a cause.

Born and based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the American musician and outspoken advocate for social justice and peace has always blended politics with art.

First spreading his conscious message as a rapper, poet and spoken word artist in groups like The Beatnigs and The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Franti went on to for the hip-hop group Spearhead – releasing the albums Home (1994) and Chocolate Supa Highway (1997) – which was later reformed as the genre-blending rock-soul-funk-folk-reggae band Michael Franti & Spearhead.

Releasing such excellent LPs as Stay Human (2001), Everyone Deserves Music (2003), Yell Fire! (2006) and All Rebel Rockers (2006), and more recently The Sound of Sunshine (2010) and All People (2013) – all while maintaining a seemingly incessant tour regimen, Michael Franti & Spearhead most recently put out SOULROCKER.

At the start of the year, we checked in with Michael Franti for a round of End Of The Line.

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Hello, My Name is Michael Franti, and I’m currently packing for a trip to Bali, where I’ll be at the Soulshine Bali yoga hotel and retreat, a place dedicated to helping people from all around the world hit the reset button, so that they can be their best when they return to life back home.

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I always do is kiss my wife and check my phone. And if I get it in the wrong order, I’m in deep trouble!

People may not know this about me, but I enjoy sweeping. I find it to be very meditative, I just like to sweep.

I’m happiest when the people in my life are feeling loved and inspired. That love and inspiration always refuels me. I want to be a difference-maker and sometimes I feel like I’m doing it, other days I feel like I’m not hitting the mark, and it’s the people who are around me who help me to find it again when I’ve lost it.

I’m terrified of the fact that if we continue with our heavy dependency on fossil fuels and with the division that we see in our country and the police violence — that if we continue in these ways we’ll eventually head down paths that cannot be reversed. Now is the time to not just be scared, but to also be active and attentive.

My real life hero is, well, I have many. Robin Lim, to name one, a midwife in Bali who I’ve known for the last 9 years. I’m inspired by her tenacity and her belief that when people are born in a gentle and happy way that they can become earth-keepers. My other heroes are my wife, Sara, and my kids.

My goal in life is through music, to inspire people to become more empathetic and more active in helping to relieve suffering on the planet – and to have a whole lot of fun while doing it!

The most rewarding thing I know is to give without any expectation of return.

My day is not the same without music and my family. As a touring musician, unfortunately, there’s a lot of days with music where I find myself away from my family. My bandmates have become my family over time, but there’s no replacement for the time that is lost when you’re not around your kids.

If I met a younger version of myself I would tell myself to go for it. I’d tell myself that sometimes you have to just say “fuck it, let’s do it.” I’d tell myself not to worry about the outcomes, that is, if it’s something you’re passionate about and believe in, and you know its not hurting another person.

I admire anyone who can resist eating a ton of sugar, because I have a problem with that!

One day, when I get the chance, I would like to see Earth from outer space.

Now that I’m finished, I’m going to finish drinking my beet juice.

But before I leave, I want to say that I believe that every person deserves to be happy, healthy and equal. I hope that in the years to come we see more and more music that is dedicated to achieving that aim.

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You can also enjoy Franti’s track-by-track commentary for his personally curated SOULROCKER playlist below:

“The Bird” – Anderson .Paak

An instant soul classic, finally a new soul song that’s about what’s inside a soul.

“Animal” – Miike Snow

This tune brings me back to the early Police records. I’m still not sure what it’s about but I love how it feels.

“Waves” – Joey Bada$$

This is one of my favorite songs of the last 5 years. It takes me back to my favorite time of hip-hop and jazz. Gang Starr, Tribe, Ron Carter, Roy Ayers…aaaaaaaah!!! Joey Bada$$ makes this song so lyrically infectious without any hook, chorus or catch phrase at all – just buttery flow for days, every time I hear it I want to replay it.

“Dang!” – Mac Miller Featuring Anderson .Paak

Funky fun for a groove session, a party at the beach.

“Light it Up” – Major Lazer (Feat. Nyla)

The horns on this song get me every time. Power and passion, yard music for the world!

“Say You Won’t Let Go” – James Arthur

I love the Cat Stevens style storytelling in this tune. Beautiful love song about real life.

“FourFiveSeconds” – Rihanna, Kanye West & Paul McCartney

Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton could have sung this song. Thank God Rihanna, Kanye and Sir Paul got to it first.

“Sad Songs” – Melanie Fiona

Classic soul, melds with deep reggae on this cut. The rhythm is from an old Janet Kay called “Silly Games” and Ms. Fiona reworks it with justice into “Sad Songs.” It’s worth listening to both versions of the track!

“Who Knows” – Protoje (Feat. Chronixx)

This track has the heaviness of 1980’s Black Uhuru dub and Protoje and Chronixx rock it right!

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