Singing It Like It Is

Over the past several years, a group of musicians have made their voices heard under the unofficial banner of "artists of conscience." Known for uncompromising stands on social issues as well as writing good music, artists such as Midnight Oil, Bruce Cockburn, and Indigo Girls, to name but a few, are blazing a new trail for less established musicians.

Joining this league with what is probably one of the finest rap albums to come out since Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is San Francisco's Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. But the Heroes' Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury is better written and crafted than anything PE, or most rap groups for that matter, has done to date.

Michael Franti and Ron Tse, formerly of The Beatnigs, have taken what they have learned, both in music and life, while playing in that band. Franti's writing/rapping (which is something like Noam Chomsky teaming up with dub-poet Linton Kwesi Johnson) and Tse's post-industrial machinations work in tandem to paint a detailed, full-color mural of life in North America.

Thematically, the collection of songs sounds like a beat manifesto. "Satanic Reverses" chronicles the erosion of civil rights in the United States, while the brilliant "Television, Drug of the Nation" proposes that "One Nation Under God has turned into One nation under the influence of one drug/Television, the drug of the Nation/ breeding ignorance and feeding radiation."

From there the Heroes take on the Gulf war ("Winter of the Long Hot Summer"), poverty and consumerism ("Financial Leprosy"), the myth of the celebrity ("Famous and Dandy [Like Amos 'n' Andy]"), and the state of politics in California ("California Uber Alles").

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Sojourners Magazine November 1992
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