Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Michael Franti & Spearhead 

Yell Fire! (Anti)

The artists who have offered themselves as Bob Marley's rightful heirs are too numerous to count. Activist rapper, poet, and singer Michael Franti is too smart to fall into that trap, but his latest album -- partly recorded in Jamaica, where Marley's mentor Chris Blackwell was lured out of semiretirement to assist -- will encourage comparisons nonetheless. Yell Fire! certainly has an island vibe, encouraged by production from Sly and Robbie (Black Uhuru, Peter Tosh), but any connection to Marley is less musical than spiritual: The charismatic Franti sounds determined to get his antiwar, pro-tolerance message to the masses.

He should succeed; this is his best (and best-sounding) amalgam of rock, rap, reggae, and R&B yet. Franti has grown into his reassuring croon, and -- more important -- out of the stridency that makes major artists settle for minor statements. Ultimately, the sweeping solidarity song "I Know I'm Not Alone" says more about Iraq than a hundred tunes like Franti's 2003 rabble-rouser "Bomb the World," and Yell Fire! ends up a more subtle and rewarding plea for peace than its incendiary title suggests.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of CD Review

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays
  • Dustin Nickerson @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., Jan. 20
  • Clayton English @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Fri., Jan. 21

© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation