21. The Influence of Great Artists

Michael Franti

In the early 90’s when we first met the young Michael Franti, he was touring with his pal Rono as the Disposable Heroes of Hiphopsrisy. That was the most amazing show!

He was such an inspirational character & hanging out in the Trent with them after the show was a real buzz.

Once the Disposable Heroes folded, he formed Spearhead & then returned to play Newcastle & we hung out some more. That was an amazing show too!

If you have never heard of Spearhead, it’s time you wised up & got with it. They are one of the best live bands you will ever see & all their albums are on.

Try their classic albums Home, Stay Human, Chocolate Supa Highway, or Everyone Deserves Music & you’ll get right with it. Their new release is called Soulrocker.

Speaking with Mike really made us realise that we were not alone in what we were doing in Newcastle.

He let us know that there was now a global, positive, anti racist, political, artistic movement, based around music, made up of individuals just like we were.

Up until that point, that particular penny hadn’t really dropped & we still felt more like loners, than part of any bigger global movement.

Understanding what he told us, now made us even more focused to stay on course & push on to change things in the city’s night life even more.

We all have to support one another & Mike wore one of out Trent shirts on the Album cover shoot for Everyone Deserves Music. Here he is rocking our logo, again in Milan…

We follow Spearhead & Michael’s career closely & catch up, with him any time we can. We were in Amsterdam a couple of years back & caught them live at Paradiso.

Honestly, we know we have just said it before, but Spearhead live is something you should make a point of experiencing before you leave this Planet.

Here’ a ticket from when we saw Mike & Spearhead are back in the Dam at the Melkweg in October 2016.

They’ve been a great influence on us & Mike’s right – we are all part of the same movement & you can be too. Whenever we see him, he always reminds us we are on the right track & to stand firm.


Public Enemy

Public Enemy were also a massive influence on us & as soon as they hit the UK in the late 80s, we followed them religiously, as they toured around the country, to every single show they played.

We’ve always rolled with the PE. They are the most important group we have ever experienced in our lifetime in music.

They were a real inspiration to us, standing up as role models, representing Black pride, racial unity, independence & self determination.

Their positive input pushed our whole thing to a new level.

We still honour them, with the massive mural, (taken from the Nation of Millions Album cover & pictured below), which is painted on our back stairs in World Headquarters.

As the decade had ended & the 90’s began, it felt like a new era was dawning. Exciting things were happening in Black music. Politics & promoting racial harmony were suddenly in vogue, so what we were doing in Newcastle was smack on the money.

Around this time seminal albums like Club Classics Vol 1 by Soul To Soul & 3 Feet High & Rising by De La Soul had just dropped & they completely redefined modern music & got mass radio airplay.

House was huge & tunes like Promised Land & Someday (see Stuff We Like section) had dropped, right in the middle of all our lives.

As always, we embraced absolutely everything, kept on playing tunes & our groove just got stronger & stronger.

It was a new decade, Newcastle was rocking, Amsterdam was beautiful, Black music was healthier than it had been in ages & we were inspired – to take the whole game up a gear.