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The Ongoing Evolution of Michael Franti
As Michael Franti prepares to headline California WorldFest in Grass Valley this weekend, it is important to note that in over thirty years of making music, the singer/rapper/poet/songwriter/activist has been an ever-evolving artist. From his early days with the Beatnigs to his long-standing tenure as the frontman in Michael Franti and Spearhead, the Northern California native has covered a lot of musical ground as well as a wide swath of intellectual, political, and social justice territory. There are wide-ranging opinions about which musical era is his best, and regardless of which era you prefer, it's been an interesting ride watching his art evolve over time. Beatnigs were a spoken word band that combined hip hop, industrial, and hardcore punk that Franti started in 1986 after finishing high school in Davis to attend the University of San Francisco. He was joined in this avant-garde collective by percussionist/dancer Rono Tse, who would later continue with him in Disposable Heroes