1994 - 1999: Spearhead
In 1994, Franti formed a new band called Spearhead with a few studio musicians, including mainstay Carl Young, and announced the dissolution of Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. Their first release, Home, in September of 1994 was a departure from the rap heavy politically charged Disposable Heroes record and drew more from funk and soul music.
Their follow up album Chocolate Supa Highway was released in March of 1997 with several changes in band members between releases. This album featured a bit of a return to Hip Hop and a pronounced Reggae influence and included guest appearances by notables like Stephen Marley and Joan Osborne.
Home and Chocolate Supa Highway were released under the band name "Spearhead", while the name on all subsequent albums would be "Michael Franti & Spearhead". This is because their first two albums were released by Capitol Records who own the rights to the name "Spearhead," not for any other reason. After the release of Chocolate Supa Highway they had a split with Capitol Records. Reportedly, their manager at Capitol Records kept on trying to get them to do duo's with people like Will Smith. They were not impressed and thus, made their own record label, "Boo-Boo Wax."
 2000 - present: Michael Franti & Spearhead
In 1999, Franti began a deeper exploration of his music and politics. He returned the following year as an organizer and cultural worker tied to several intensifying political movements of the time, voicing his observations through his music.
Michael Franti & Spearhead released Stay Human in 2000 on indie music label, Boo Boo Wax and Six Degrees. The album's central theme was the unjust nature of the death penalty and other major themes included media monopolization, the prison-industrial complex and corporate globalization.
In an interview, Franti talks about the message of Stay Human: "Half the record is songs about what's happening in the world right now, and the other half is about how we cope with it as people who are concerned about what's going on," he says. "This spectre of war, intimidation, this nation vs. the rest of the world, it wears us out. Half the record is a healthy dose of venting anger about that, and the other half is about how do we hold on to our spirituality, our community and our connectedness to each other." 
Everyone Deserves Music was released in 2003. Franti composed many of the songs from his guitar and, like fellow 21st century cultural globalists Manu Chao and Ozomatli, continues to synthesize his eclectic influences. In a departure from the industrial sounds of the Beatnigs and Disposable Heroes, and the minimalism of early Spearhead, Franti's affirming lyrics are now set to appropriately swelling rock chords, while keeping a world-wise groove nodding towards reggae, dancehall, bossa nova, Afrobeat, and funk. Anthems like the title track "Everyone Deserves Music", "Yes I Will" and "Bomb The World" are constructed with a nod to the '80s rock of The Clash and U2, as well as classic soul from Stax and Motown. The song "We Don't Stop" (featuring Gift of Gab from Blackalicious and Spearhead's rapper/beatbox technician Radioactive) even manages to bridge the two sounds in a "Magnificent Seven" style mash-up. And on "Love Why Did You Go Away" and "What I Be", Franti reveals an alluring, sensual singing voice. "Pray For Grace" and "Bomb The World (Armageddon Version)" pair Franti with the reggae/funk giants Sly and Robbie (Grace Jones, Rolling Stones, Black Uhuru, No Doubt).
Also in 2003, Franti released a mostly acoustic album, Songs from the Front Porch containing rearranged versions of older songs from Chocolate Supa Highway, Stay Human and Everyone Deserves Music as well as a couple new tracks.
On July 25, 2006, Michael Franti & Spearhead released their new album, entitled " Yell Fire!", inspired by Franti's trip to Israel, Baghdad, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. In an effort to share his experiences from his trip and to explore the human cost of war, Franti produced a movie entitled "I Know I'm Not Alone", using the songs from his album " Yell Fire!" as a soundtrack. "One Step Closer To You" from Yell Fire! features Pink on backing vocals.
Michael Franti and Spearhead have taken a highly unconventional route to notoriety for an act with Hip Hop roots. Largely ignored by the traditional mainstream TV and radio channels of promotion, Franti and Spearhead have gained a passionate worldwide audience through extensive touring and appearances in alternative media like Mother Jones Magazine and Democracy Now.
Franti continues to hit the festival circuit worldwide, in addition to producing the annual Power to the Peaceful festival, which has drawn more than 20,000 people to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco over the past seven years. Michael Franti continues to gain influence in both popular music and social movements largely through extensive touring and word of mouth fan support. Lyrics from his song "Bomb The World", written in the dark aftermath of September 11 such as "You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace.", have found their way onto protest signs and T-shirts all over the world from Los Angeles to Berlin, San Francisco to CNN, at demonstrations for peace large and small.
"Right now, people ask me, 'What can one person do to change what's going on with the world?' I don't know what one person can do except to connect with other people. In doing that, each of us play our roles," he says. "My role is as a storyteller and a songwriter. I'm somebody who is trying to keep the spirits of other people up, despite all the chaos and fear around us"
Some in the rap community have attempted to dismiss Franti's critique of the rampant, overt violence present in gangsta rap by ridiculing Franti's white adoptive parents though they never criticise the natural parents who abandoned him in the first place. But Franti's supporters note that he pushes for peace and justice regardless of race, and attempts to address contemporary social issues in America such as AIDS, homelessness, kidnapping, police brutality, the Iraq War and the death penalty.
Franti is also an advocate for peace in the Middle East. His Film I know I'm Not Alone features footage of Iraq, the territories within the Palestinian Authority, and Israel and communicates to the MTV, X, Y & Z generations, as well as the baby boomers about the human cost of war. The film's guerrilla style footage, captured in active war zones, is unlike many similar academic and politically driven pieces in the marketplace, offering instead an opportunity for audiences to travel with and hear the voices of everyday people living, creating and surviving under the harsh conditions of war and occupation.
Franti is also vegan.
|Carl Young||Bass, Keys, Flute & Sax|
|Roberto Quintana||Drums & Percussion|