Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury :

Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy

(Island, 1992)

Astoundingly successful hip-hop performer Michael Franti is probably better known these days for his work with Spearhead on albums like "Everyone Deserves Music". Listeners who enjoy his sense of melody and the catchy music provided by his backing musicians are strongly advised to avoid this album. Listeners who can look beyond the catchy lyrics and appreciate the message behind them will more than likely find something to enjoy here.

The Disposable Heroes were an industrial-hip-hop-performance poetry duo from the early 90s who pulled absolutely no punches when it came to their subject matter. Being an explicitly political group, much of this album refers to events and personalities current in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War and the United States of George Bush Snr. That said, there is a surprising universality in some of the tracks which enables them to communicate their message more than 10 years after they were recorded.

The most well-known performance on this album is the minor hit "Television, The Drug Of A Nation". Franti's condemnation of television culture "where pop stars metamorphosise into soda pop stars/you saw the movie/you heard the soundtrack/now buy the drink/for the only cola that I support/would be a Union COLA - Cost of Living Allowance" is as current now as it was then. Indeed, the plethora of reality TV shows in today's world demonstrates the validity of Franti's comments.

Also worth a listen is "Satanic Reverses" (itself a reference to Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses"), a condemnation of almost everything a government could possibly do - with the strident chorus "bail out the banks/loan art to the churches/satanic reverses". "Socio-Genetic Experiment", a semi-autobiographical tale of Franti's youth, is also an interesting performance.

Slightly more dated tracks are "The Winter of the Long Hot Summer", a first-person retelling of the first Gulf War (outdated??? My arse. This is totally up to date. Could have been written about today's world situation. Phil Rose esq), and "California Uber Alles" - a Dead Kennedys cover lambasting then-California Governor Pete Smith (Again, my arse. This song has a great history of being recorded and rerecorded and updated. This is part of that tradition and all we need is for someone to come and update it once again. Phil Rose esq). While many of the specific references may be lost in both songs, the messages are as clear now as they ever have been. It's tempting to replace Gov. Smith with any politically divisive leader in the modern world and notice just how true the song remains.

Capping the disc off is the subdued "Water Pistol Man". This track would later be re-worked by Spearhead, and it's quite easy to see why. Franti's casual delivery of the line "Why don't you stop and smell the flowers in your own backyard?" sets the blueprint for what would become known as the Spearhead sound.

Aside from Franti's unique vocal delivery (the Heroes only ever released this one album and by the time Spearhead convened, Franti would have developed a much more folksy idiom), credit must be given to Rono Tse's music. On a politically-driven album, the music must walk a narrow line between keeping the song going but also not detracting from the lyrics. While it might sound strange to say that Tse's atonal soundscapes, embracing everything from power tools to frantic DJ scratching, manage to do both these things, they do. Somehow or another, the two sides of the band complement each other perfectly.

So again, Franti-fans who enjoy Spearhead's melody and music sense should avoid this album. For the listener who can appreciate Franti's political vision and pull-no-punches turns of phrase, this will be a much-valued CD.

By 3rdeadly3rd



You get so used to the misogenist, violent hatefulness that often comes across in hip-hop, it almost a surprise to listen to an album that is thought-provoking, without the need to use swear words. Influences ranging from Gil Scott-Heron to Billy Bragg, make it musically inspired aswell as leaving you with anarchic tendencies.

This is an absolute gem of an album which somehow manages to pull off the incredible feat of being extremely politically informative whilst being immensely enjoyable at the same time. Michael Franti, long before he discovered 'mainstream' success with Spearhead, was one of the most articulate men in music, and his lyrics on this album are probably the finest ever committed to vinyl by an MC.
Aided and abetted on this, the only full-length release from DHOH, by percussion cohort Rono Tse, Franti explores such diverse subjects as the portrayal of blacks in the media (Famous and Dandy), the adverse effect of the Cathode Ray Tube on modern youth (Television: The Drug of the Nation) and the role consumerism plays in perpetuating the class divide (Financial Leprosy), this album could probably be considered the last great 'protest album'.

But make no mistake, this isn't just an excuse to fill out lengthy songs with even lengthier words. This album manages to be both immediately enjoyable and long-lasting at the same time. The immediacy is due in no small part to the memorable samples used and the fantastic variety of the songs. They range from straight hip-hop to funk to rock and even balladry, meaning that there truly should be something for everyone on this album.

by stumo


This is a horrible record. The MC's flow is incredibly weak, he has no understanding of rhyme at all, the beats are powder puff material, the most uncool, unhip stuff ever produced in the rap genre (unless you count that awful CD Cornel West made, which I don't, cause that ain't rap, it's ...). There are maybe two songs with musical tracks that aren't paper thin and weak, and the vocalist has NO memorable or clever rhymes. Just a bunch of radical left political ranting, most of which doesn't even rhyme. Didn't this guy ever listen to any other hip hop records? If he did, he might notice that the lyrics RHYME. This is like a parody record. Awful. I'm glad I didn't buy it and just listened to a friend's CD. Not worth a penny.



I was listening to the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy today and listening to this song I wondered whether people would be able to tell readily whether this song was written in 1990 or 2003. Of course, you'll guess as I wouldn't be sending the lyrics on if it was about the current (mission accomplished) war but nonetheless.

Long song, well worth a read.

Phil Rose Esq

The Winter of the Long Hot Summer

It all seemed so idiotic all the accusations of unpatriotic
The fall we'll always remember, capitulating silence
election November before the winter
of the long hot summer
Somewhere in the desert
we raised the oil pressure
and waited for the weather
to get much better
for the new wind to blow in the storm
We tried to remember the history in the region
the French foreign legion, Imperialism,
Peter O'Toole and hate the Ayatollah
were all we learned in school
Not that we gave Hussein five billion
Not of our new bed partner the Syrian
and of course no mention of the Palestine situation
It was amazing how they steamrolled
They said eighty percent approval
but there was no one that I knew polled
No one had a reason for being in the Gulf
We waited for congress to speak up illegal build up
But no one would wake up
Our representatives were Milli Vanilli's
for corporate Dallas Cowboy Beverly Hillbillies
With perfect timing
the politicians rhyming their sentiments
so nicely oil gold and sand
my sediments precisely....
We regretfully support the lunacy
I'm afraid there is no time for more scrutiny
National unity preserve our community
Teflon© election opportunities
were in profundant abundance

On January second the Bush administration
announced a recession had stricken
the Nation the highest quarterly
earnings in ten years were posted
by Chevron©
Meanwhile a budget was placed in our hands
as the deadline in the sand came to an end
so much for the peace dividend
one billion a day is what we spent
and our grandchildren will pay for it 'til the end
When schools are unfunded
and kids don't get their diplomas
they get used for gun boat diplomacy
black or brown we see
bullet catchers for the slave master

Then the conservatives called up reservists
to active service left families nervous
but more importantly broke nine hundred a month
but the check came late, army red tape you see,
this golden opportunity
We watched the tube and read the newspaper
The propaganda of the gas masked raper
was the proper slander to whip up the hatred

The stage was lit and the lights were all faded
The pilots in night vision goggles Kuwaited and
generals masturbated
'til the fifteenth two days later they invaded
Not a single t.v. station expressed dissension or
hardly made mention to the censorship of information
from our kinder and gentler nation
blinder and mentaler retardation
The pilots said their bombs lit Baghdad
like a Christmas tree
It was the Christian thing to do you see
they didn't mention any casualties
no distinction between the real
and the proxy
only football analogies

We saw the bomb hole
We watched the Super Bowl
We saw the scud missile
We watched Bud© commercials
We saw the yellow ribbons
Saw pilots in prison
We never saw films of the dead...at eleven
Angela Davis addressed the spectators
and shouting above a rumbling generator said
if they insist on bringing us down
then let's shut the whole country down
Marching through the downtown
A hundred thousand became participants
and we heard the drums of millions off in the distance
rushing through the cities
some of them did things that weren't so pretty
most were there for primal scream therapy
news men concentrated
on the negative liked the jingoists more
peaceful protesters ended up
on the cutting room floor
Nintendo© casualties of the ratings war
More bombs dropped than in World War II
on in both Asian invasions, new world order persuasion,
Business as usual
for our nation
Could you imagine a hundred fifty thousand dead,
the city of Stockton
coffins locked in when we clocked in...not to mention
The loss of life on both sides
pushed the limits of resilience
The scent of blood in our nostrils
fuel of the fossil land of apostle
The blackness that covered the sky was not the only thing
that brought a tear to the eye or
the taste of anger to the tongues
of those too young to remember Vietnam

Is heroin better in a veteran's mind
than the memory of the dying laying in a line
Is it the smell or the shadows heaving and weeping
that keeps the soldier from sleeping
as he sings the orphan's lullaby
When the soldiers put down their bayonets
the strings are chained to the marionettes
Emir of Kuwait gets back in his jet
we replace the dead with new cadets
will we hate those who did the shelling
or will we hate those who weren't willing to do the killing
when the leaders of the bald eagles come home to roost
will we sing a song of praise and indebtedness
for our deliverance from evil
or will we sing a song of sadness
for the dreaded debt this mess delivered us PEOPLE.