I had heard Michael Franti's earlier band, Disposable Heroes of Hiphopracy and loved it. I had heard Spearhead, his next band also (thier first album) and liked it alot. I never got into the second one Chocolate Supahighway.
In other words, nothing prepared me for his newest release, Stay Human. It is, in my mind, the best release of the year 2001, bar none. It is human....angry, thinking, feeling, with a ton of variety (of music and thoughts).
Wrapped around a fictional radio station and a brewing controversy about a local grandmother-aged social advocate and her conviction of a murder (during an election where the sitting governor is in danger of losing his job), this album will keep your head bobbing and your brain thinking...and your heart feeling, to use another cliche. It is just one of the most incredible releases I have ever heard. Believe me.
Official site at: http://www.stayhuman.org/index.htm