Spearhead Concert Review

“Food for the Masses”Impressions of the Spearhead Show
and the “Chocolate Supa Highway” Album

Photographs by Petra Arnold

Words & Digitization by Darrow Boggiano

“Rock Rock Ya’ll” – Spearhead comes alive” at the Fillmore. The “Chocolate Supa Highway” show sold out and the joint was packed from front to back and top to bottom with hyped fans.

Franti has a stage presence that mesmerizes. With him under the spots, its hard to notice the rest of the group, but listening to the CD confirms that the variety of voices and musical talent is a big part of why he comes off so impeccable on stage and in the studio. Phunky rasta style from Ras I. Zulu, bumpin’ bass and keyboard from Carl Young who writes with Franti on 7 of the 15 songs on “Chocolate Supa Highway”. and glorious vocals from Trinna Simmons add a refined touch to the straight-up messages of Spearhead.

We played hell getting in to the show, but after missing just a few songs, I was able to get the feel of what the latest from Spearhead is all about. Drifting up to the balcony during “Tha Payroll” I saw some sisters nodding to each other and I could actually see pride gleaming in their faces over a brotha’ standing up for them rather than rappin’ bout “bitches, hos and when I dip, you dip, we dip”. Most of the songs discuss injustices by government, individual, and corporate oppressors. The casual wisdom of his words, and numerous ear-catching phrases are not only fun to listen and dance to, but should inspire people to be more conscious of what is really going on around them. The tunes on the new album take you many places. . . from love of family “it stops with the flowers in your own backyard”, to a society that makes money from imprisonment and doesn’t take their kids with them on vacation.

This guy was chosen to jump up on stage and
shake his groove thing with the band.

SAMPLESThe tunes speak for themselves,
so take a listen.
You can click &
keep surfing

“Food For The Masses”
148k RealAudio

“Rebel Music”
148k RealAudio

“Madness In The Hood”
185k RealAudio

“U Can’t Sing R Song”
174k RealAudio

“Africa On Line”
174k RealAudio

If you don’t have Real Audio yet – get it now!

David James plays guitar on much of the new album, and although she’s not mentioned on the CD I’m pretty sure Dawn Penn was the other voice/guitarist on stage at the Fillmo’, since they did a taste of her jammin’ tune “You Don’t Love Me” (no, no, no).After listening to the CD more than a few times, it makes one realize the shit that brothas and sistas are still dealing with and dying from, on a daily basis.

The song “Gas Gauge” is about a brother who gets stopped for no reason and killed by a cop on his way to a job interview because he was reaching for his wallet in the glove box where someone had left a gun. The story is told in a fairy tale manner as though he’s talking about a woman who lives in a shoe and it takes a while for the truth of it all to ring through. But when it hits, it’s a powerful blow. Definitely makes you think about how many times you’ve gotten away with having shit in your glove box, but the cop didn’t stop to check you out if they saw you as ‘non-threatening’.

“Food for the Masses” epitomizes the album focus and rocks with a supaphunky dance beat. It sounds like they are warning the world that the protest will continue against all forms of oppression and government control. The food is “truth”, and if that’s what the masses are buying, Spearhead oughtta’ make a bundle. The CD’s layout is comfortable as that song slides into “You Can’t Sing R Song”, which starts with a melodious Marvin Gaye style that melts into a soulful rapbeat; smooth as buttah.

“Madness In Tha Hood” is melodic and peaceful even though they are singing about hookers on Leavenworth Street, Johnny Cochran, the SFPD and crack freaks. Listening to the soothing instruments combined with vivid words picturing harsh realities sends your emotions up, down, east and west. The variety in both tone and lyric between Zulu, Simmons and Franti on this track make for a fresh combination.On the non-political front, “U Can’t Sing R Song” is more of a romantic, love song – Sensitive rap is hard to come across, but it sounds easy here. . . “long hot kisses and summer wishes. . . I mistook all your lovin’ for captivity . . . I still want you and I’m sad we had to let it go”.

“Comin’ To Gitcha” may be referring to an addiction to a lover or to dope, but since they aren’t much different, I guess it doesn’t matter. Franti sounds like he’s soothing an addict who’s coming down. Trinna Simmons and Marie Daulne add sultry and dramatic vocals that are so real, they take you back to sometime and place where you felt the same lonely desperation. Michael’s sexy ‘I’m here for you’ tone reassures that there is hope and sends chills. On “Why Oh Why” you get some autobiographical look at Franti and his basketball days. It gives a few more hints as to why he’s pretty pissed off at the world some times.. . “These memories be chasin’ me”.
Chocolate Supa Highway is a megabyte of intellect and musical masterpiece packed in to one little CD.

The beats will keep us dancing and singing along while the power of the word comes through to help Frisco and Franti lead the way in looking at whassreallyup’ in the areas of police brutality, bigotry, false imprisonment, and

“Hey – the herb’s a gift ya’ll”.

“Rock, Rock on Chocolate. The Supa Highway”

“Gotta’ go. Stay solid.”

Spearhead knows how to get people moving and maybe that’s a step toward a better world.

D. Boggiano


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