Franti’s early ’90s project, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, sacrificed hip-hop’s sanguine bravado on the altar of social activism. With Spearhead, however, the Oakland, Calif., native gets back to his roots, both musically and lyrically. With soul and funk as a springboard, Spearhead’s jams — like Franti’s own stage presence — are equal parts Chuck D, Bob Marley and Earth, Wind and Fire. Stunning backup vocalists and rump-shaking revelry never dilute his message, but rather provide the right amount of sugar to help the polemics go down.
Just as Kweli and Franti’s righteous thump flourishes in sunshine, when night falls the shadowy Red Marquee’s late-night lineup will thrive. The spectacle begins around midnight with Pole (aka Stefan Betke), an aural alchemist known for boiling dub down to an amorphous sludge, then sprinkling it with the snap, crackle and pop of a malfunctioning sound processor. Betke’s foil will be Cincinnati, Ohio-based MC/DJ, Fat Jon, whose mike and turntable exploits sound downright baroque compared to Betke’s murky minimalism.
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