Although this group is long defunct, its one major recording will be fondly remembered for years--if not decades--to come. The Heroes consisted of rapper Michael Franti and percussionist Ron Tse; together, the San Francisc... more »o Bay area-based duo created a biting, politically savvy record that touched on both personal vulnerability and governmental venality. Franti used the microphone to preach about injustice, homophobia, materialism, and apathy. Although Public Enemy had long before established hip-hop's political potential, they never quite attained Franti's ability to translate black rage into universal themes. In the Heroes' best number, "Television, the Drug of the Nation," Franti raps, "Imagination is sucked out of our children by a cathode ray nipple / Television is the only wet-nurse that would create a cripple." Unfortunately, after extensive touring, the pair went their separate ways, Tse to a variety of solo projects and Franti to Spearhead. --Martin Johnson« less
Although this group is long defunct, its one major recording will be fondly remembered for years--if not decades--to come. The Heroes consisted of rapper Michael Franti and percussionist Ron Tse; together, the San Francisco Bay area-based duo created a biting, politically savvy record that touched on both personal vulnerability and governmental venality. Franti used the microphone to preach about injustice, homophobia, materialism, and apathy. Although Public Enemy had long before established hip-hop's political potential, they never quite attained Franti's ability to translate black rage into universal themes. In the Heroes' best number, "Television, the Drug of the Nation," Franti raps, "Imagination is sucked out of our children by a cathode ray nipple / Television is the only wet-nurse that would create a cripple." Unfortunately, after extensive touring, the pair went their separate ways, Tse to a variety of solo projects and Franti to Spearhead. --Martin Johnson
3rdeadly3rd | Brisbane, Queensland Australia | 01/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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, and "California Uber Alles" - a Dead Kennedys cover lambasting then-California Governor Pete Smith. 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."
A Rare Find
dcinDC | Washington, DC United States | 11/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're even thinking about getting this album you should just buy it because you won't be disappointed. I decided to get this album because of how much I liked the Spearhead albums and I may even like this better. Phat grooves and SMART words that make you think! Wish I could say that's something you find all the time in music today, but it just isn't. Even though the album's a couple/few years old, it remains sharp and relevant and the sound will pull you in and pump you up all at the same time. Why are you still reading this? Go get it! :)"
Frosty Cold One | 05/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It almost seems too good to be true: a hip-hop album that's at once scathingly political, smart enough to address the ambiguities of its subject matter rather than resorting to "us vs. them", AND incredibly well-produced and a hell of a great listen from a purely musical standpoint. Every song on here is in some measure brilliant, a biting, intelligent diatribe delivered over infectious beats and clever samples via Michael Franti's smooth, deadpan flow. There are some clear standout tracks (the cover of the Dead Kennedys' "California Uber Alles" is my personal favorite), but "Hypocrisy..." is an incredibly solid, utterly amazing reminder of the largely unfulfilled promise of the genre."
Against the Grain
Frosty Cold One | Seattle, WA USA | 11/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While the 'Inspirators & Conspirators' listed in the lyrics booklet include KRS-ONE and Public Enemy, they also include folks who are decidedly NOT rap artists: Jello Biafra, Adrian Sherwood, Meat Beat Manifesto, and Billy Bragg. While everyone seems to classify DHOH as rap, its Industrial element is plainly there for anyone to hear (chains, grinders, tire rims) along with the Very obvious influence of Gil Scott-Heron. IF YOU CAN'T COPE WITH BREAKING OUT OF A MUSICAL GENRE, THEN DON'T BUY THIS CD. As a young punk rocker, I listened to this almost every night for a couple of months upon its release (more than a decade ago); it's such a classic that I can still enjoy it today (and the song 'The Winter of the Long Hot Summer' speaks just as well to Bush II / Gulf War II as it did to Bush I / Gulf War I).
The lyrics are deeply thought-provoking, proving this duo to be pretty much the antithesis of NWA (not that NWA doesn't make you think at all -- I'll bet someone out there somewhere has done their dissertation on NWA). Unlike many other albums out there, the first two tracks here are not the 'hits' (actually, I feel that they are the weakest of the bunch). Instead you'll probably find your favorites dispersed throughout the CD, including a strong closing track.
Buy this CD if you want to hear something refreshing (even over a decade after it was fresh)."
All the Best Elements of Hip-Hop
Mark Stobbs | Palo Alto, California, USA | 06/16/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy are anything but disposable. With social commentary that cuts to the core of modern ills, they expose our disposable culture for what it is, pointing out hypocrisy at every turn. The band instantly evokes memories of other great Hip-Hop bands that have combined socio-political poetry with Jazz-influenced riffs: bands like Arrested Development and Digable Planets. Listenable, yet demanding, the Heroes deliver melody and musically complex arrangements. Samples are used liberally, with synths providing a techno background for their funk. When the band reincarnated as Spearhead, the synth player/co-writer was missing from the lineup. That was a loss as this album proves. Nevertheless, Spearhead is also worth a listen, especially if you like the Heroes.Sadly, the Disposable Heroes never got the recognition they deserved, putting out just this one album to my knowledge. It's one of my Top 5 Hip-Hop favorites of all time. Check it out."