MICHAEL Franti has never hidden his love for reggae music and respect for Jamaican musicians. He did some reggae on his last two albums and worked with Jamaican musicians, including Sly and Robbie.
On his new album, All People, Franti sheds his underground tag for a more commercial sound.
The 47-year-old Franti told the RGJ.com website that he has never shied from experimenting with different sounds.
"When I was a kid my favourite group was The Clash. They made all of these records when they were young and they only knew how to play three chords. And they sounded a certain way. They sounded like a band that only knew three chords," he explained. "Then they started to experiment with reggae, jazz, funk, hip hop, rap, and then they started making these records that could only be called The Clash. And then some of their songs started to get played on mainstream radio," Franti added.
He concluded: "People said, 'Oh God, now the radio is playing their music'. But I listen back to all of their records today and I just hear this evolution of 'Oh, they're adding this to it, they're adding this to it, they're adding this to it'. Now, it's like the radio has come around to where they are. And that's how I feel."
Franti and his band, Spearhead, recorded much of their 2008 album All Rebel Rockers in Kingston. It produced a Top 40 Billboard hit in Say Hey (I Love You) with singer Cherine Anderson.
The title track from the 2010 follow-up album, The Sound Of Sunshine, was a minor hit in the US.
Franti and Spearhead are from California. Typical of underground artistes in the US, for most of their 20-year career, they have stayed away from commercial music, choosing to build a loyal fan base in their homeland, Asia and Europe through constant touring.